The amount of vacant space at shopping centers across Dallas-Fort Worth fell to its lowest level in about five years in 2014, according to an annual market report from The Weitzman Group real estate firm.
At year’s end, the occupancy rate was 90.5 percent in DFW. The Fort Worth area reported 91.2 percent occupancy, up from 90.5 percent a year ago, and higher than the 90.2 percent occupancy in Dallas.
The improved market came as grocers continued their competition for space, and builders continued to curtail construction, said Herb Weitzman, executive chairman of The Weitzman Group.
Last year, 2 million square feet of new retail space was added in DFW, with 75 percent targeted for grocery stores, he said. Nationally, the trend is the same, Weitzman said.
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“Thank goodness for the grocers,” he said. “Food is our strongest retail category, without a doubt. These grocery stores are clearly adapting to today’s market. Store sizes and selections are tailored for each specific trade area.”
The Weitzman Group tracks 1,383 shopping centers with 25,000 square feet of space or more.
Bob Young, Weitzman’s managing director, said he expects retail construction to stay about 2 million square feet a year, in part as retailers learn to balance store sizes as online sales increase.
“We’ve got a strong market with low vacancy, steady retail sales and incredible jobs and population growth,” Young said. “I think that this will be the new norm.”
Vacancy at the area’s 18 malls, though, increased. At year’s end, malls reported 7.3 percent vacancy, an increase from 6.5 percent vacancy at the end of 2013, Young said.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727