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  • Writer's pictureMAREJ

Levin retail survey: Brick-and-mortar store managers say things are looking up

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ — Brick-and-mortar store managers say things are looking up and report positive expectations for the second half of 2021, according to Levin Management Corporation (LMC). The North Plainfield commercial real estate services firm this month wrapped up polling for its annual Mid-Year Retail Sentiment Survey, exploring year-to-date performance and outlook, hiring, technology usage and more among tenants in its 120-property, 16 million s/f leasing and management portfolio.

Nearly 65% of survey participants are optimistic their sales will improve further this year – the highest percentage in the LMC mid-year survey’s decade-long history – and more than half of those respondents believe their sales will grow to meet or exceed pre-pandemic levels in 2021. Another 19% anticipate sales will remain steady during the coming months. Significantly, the combined “improve/remain steady” response percentage is more than 10 points above the survey’s trailing average*.

“What a difference a year makes,” said LMC’s Matthew Harding, chief executive officer. “Clearly, business is moving closer to normal, and tenants feel this trajectory will continue. Our survey’s street-level sentiment findings are supported by industry groups like the National Retail Federation, which last month adjusted its 2021 forecast to reflect significantly better-than-expected sales growth. Further, another key study shows brick-and-mortar will continue to capture a healthy share of consumer spending.”

Within this context, tenants are shoring up their staffing, with just over 70% of LMC respondents currently hiring. Nearly 80% of that group indicates it has become harder to find qualified job candidates in the current environment – a statistic supporting ongoing, industrywide discussion of retail labor shortages and jobs openings. “This inability to hire could curb progress to a degree,” Harding said. “The industry will be watching this closely – particularly moving into the fall and toward the critical holiday shopping season.”


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