Recent closures of big-box retail locations have increased the vacancy rate among retail properties in northern New Jersey, according to R.J. Brunelli & Co., a retail brokerage firm.


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Retail vacancies escalate in northern N.J.

June 13th, 2012

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. – Recent closures of big-box retail locations have increased the vacancy rate among retail properties in northern New Jersey, according to R.J. Brunelli & Co., a retail brokerage firm.

The company’s 22nd annual study of the six-county northern New Jersey market shows that the vacancy rate along the six major shopping corridors (state highways 4, 10, 17, 22, 23 and 46/3) in the northern half of the state edged up to 8.2% in April, up from 8.1% in the prior-year month. The area traditionally has been one of the tightest real estate markets in the country, but the vacancy rate has increased for five years in a row as a result of big-box closures.

For example, the vacancy rate in 2007 was just 2.9%, increasing to 3.6% the following year before escalating to 6.6% in 2009 as the full force of the recession hit. In 2010 the rate rose again to 8%. The Brunelli study reviewed shopping centers and freestanding buildings larger than 2,000 square feet, and includes freestanding restaurants, auto service facilities and auto dealerships, but excludes regional malls and shopping centers under construction or redevelopment.

Big-box stores are defined as outlets measuring more than 20,000 square feet. In this year’s study they accounted for 46.8% of the empty space, up from a 45.7% share in 2011.

"The Chapter 11 filing of A&P, which has since emerged from bankruptcy protection, and the demise of Borders continued to have the biggest impact on the northern New Jersey market," says Richard Brunelli, president. "Of A&P’s six Pathmark stores that went dark along the corridors in 2011 or 2010, only two have been absorbed so far. Consequently, over 226,000 square feet of empty Pathmark space lingers on the corridors."

In addition to the shuttered Pathmarks, three 25,000-square-foot Borders locations were closed during the past year. On the positive side, some older big-box locations that had become vacant have acquired occupants, including Conway Stores, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Harbor Freight, Sears Outlet & Appliance and Lord & Taylor Home.

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