PARAMUS, NJ-The Goldstein Group recently completed its survey of New Jersey’s retail marketplace and concluded that as of January 2010 there was an overall vacancy rate of 8.11% throughout Northern and Central New Jersey, just slightly down from 8.18% in July 2009.

The vacancy rate indicates stabilization in the market, after an increase over the last few semi-annual reports from 5.21% in July 2008. Interestingly enough, the vacancy rate has not increased anywhere near projections of 10% by the end of 2009.

“It appears things have settled down a bit,” says Chuck Lanyard, president of the Goldstein Group. “One of the biggest concerns in 2009 was the number of tenants going out of business.”

The survey, which was conducted during December 2009 and January 2010 reports over 7.7 million square feet of vacant retail space from over 95 million square feet of space evaluated among 22 primary retail markets; there was over 7.8 million square feet of vacant space at this time six months ago.

The retail markets with the lowest overall vacancy rates include the Ramsey/Mahwah Route 17 corridor and the Route 17 Rochelle Park/Rutherford corridor in Bergen County as well as the Toms River Hooper Avenue corridor in Ocean County. Meanwhile, the highest vacancy rates are reported in the Route 35 Shrewsbury through Neptune corridor in Monmouth County, the Route 18 East Brunswick corridor in Middlesex County and the Toms River/Route 37 corridor.

“Although we anticipate vacancies to continue in 2010, the numbers will not be as severe as they were in 2009,” adds Lanyard. “However, the re-leasing of space also referred to as absorption will be understandably slower over the next few years.”

Lanyard adds that the economic downturn is far from over and retailers will move cautiously forward in opening new stores. “Consumer confidence is finally showing some signs of recovery as best exemplified by this past Christmas season,” he says. “Gross sales, especially in the last two weeks of the Christmas rush, were a little stronger than anticipated, but overall, the recent flurry in shopping has been wildly seen as consumers taking advantage of big discounting on behalf of retailers.”

However, Lanyard is optimistic about the future of New Jersey retail. “The state continues to be one of the strongest retail markets in the Northeast,” he notes. “Compared to other regions of the country, New Jersey is doing better than expected; other states are reporting vacancy rates from 12% to 15%. It appears landlords are assisting retailers in staying afloat as we crawl out of this recession and its aftermath by providing rent adjustments and concessions. We have also seen considerable activity of new tenants entering the marketplace with landlords anxious to make deals.”

While New Jersey has always enticed retailers due to its tremendous residential numbers and high incomes, the state will continue to feel the impact of the economic downturn. The state’s unemployment rate has risen to a 33-year high of 10.1%, just above the national average of 10%.

“We anticipate there will be more retailers closing their stores or filing bankruptcy over the coming months,” Lanyard tells “However, the silver lining in all of this is for the entrepreneurial retailer looking to open a business. They are now being given opportunities to secure prime locations that weren’t available to them before and can take advantage of very favorable rent deals as well.”

As we slowly come out of this recession, Lanyard believes we will also see the national and regional tenants begin to show interest in expansion again.

Despite consumers cutting back on discretionary income spending, they have not given up on attending health clubs and fitness centers. These facilities have been able to secure prime locations to meet this demand.

Regional and local retailers and restaurateurs are also still seeking New Jersey locations. 7-Eleven, an exclusive client of the Goldstein Group, is a primary example of a retailer forging ahead with an aggressive expansion plan for the New Jersey market. “We have consummated 20 deals with 7-Eleven over the past two years and they are targeting another 50 to 60 store openings over the next two to three years,” says Lanyard.

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