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Retail Trade Challenges and Opportunities in 2019

E-commerce continues to challenge brick-and-mortar retailers, especially department stores and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores. However, the retail trade sector is still facing bright prospects in growing metro areas that are attracting people, jobs, and housing. The trend towards integration of online and offline shopping, mixed-use commercial/residential development that requires a strong retail anchor, and the tax incentives for Opportunity Zone projects are factors that will support the growth of brick-and-mortar retail stores in 2019.

E-Commerce and Retail Trade Trends in 2018

In 2018, electronic and mail order sales totaled $598 billion, or 12.7 percent of the $5.3 trillion in total retail sales in 2018, up from a mere four percent of the market in 1992.[1] Electronic shopping & mail order sales outpaced warehouse clubs and super store sales ($481 billion) and department store sales ($149 billion).  Department store (excluding leased space) retail sales (think Sears, JC Penny, Marshall Field’s, Filene’s Basement, and the like[2])  have shrunk since 2000 from $231 billion to just $149 billion by 2018. Warehouse clubs and super stores (think Sam’s Club/Walmart, Costco, BJ’s) sales have risen robustly along with e-commerce sales since 2000, but sales have been overtaken by e-commerce sales since 2016.

Department stores (excluding leased departments) and sporting goods, hobby, book, and music stores have been hit the hardest, with sales contracting in 2018 for these sub-retail sector markets. In 2018, sales of department stores excluding leased space and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales contracted while electronic and mail order retail sales rose 10 percent. E-commerce sales outpaced the growth of total retail sales (4.7%) and all retail subsectors except sale of gasoline stations (12.7%), fuel dealers (23.5%) and men’s clothing stores (12.7%). Men’s clothing stores appears to be doing better in the face of the e-commerce compared to women’s clothing stores (3.3%) (perhaps because it still makes sense to fit an expensive suit at the store). Jewelry store sales also still rose strongly (8.2%) (perhaps because shoppers still want to try on the jewelry before making a purchase).

Just last February 15, Payless ShoeSource announced it was closing some 2,100 stores in the United States and Puerto Rico after it had filed for bankruptcy in 2017. This brings to 4,287 announced store closings in 2019, following on the heels of 8,139 announced store closures in 2017 and 5,524 in 2018, according to CoreSight, a website that tracks the retail market.

Implication on Jobs and Income

With brick and mortar retail trade sales on the decline and e-commerce retail sales on the rise, job creation has shifted towards transportation and warehousing, which are the logistics supports of e-commerce sales.   In 2018, the retail trade sector created a mere 14,000 net new payroll jobs in 2018, while transportation and warehousing created 216,100 jobs. Retail trade job creation in 2018 slightly rebounded from the 87,900 jobs lost in 2017, although this is paltry compared to the average of 223,000 jobs created in the retail trade sector during 2012–2016.

What’s the implication of this shifting in jobs from retail to logistics for the economy and for workers? If workers can find a job quickly in other sectors such as in warehousing and transportation, their incomes are likely to be higher.[3] Retail trade workers are generally the least paid among all other major groups of workers, receiving on average $594 weekly compared to transportation and warehousing workers who receive on average $948 weekly and wholesale trade workers who receive on average $1,210 weekly (as of February 2019).

Retail Trade Opportunities  

Opportunities for the growth of retail trade varies across metro areas, creating jobs in growing metro areas that are attracting people, jobs, and housing. Factors that will support the growth of retail trade in 2019 are the trend towards integration of online and offline shopping, the development of mixed-use commercial/residential areas that require a strong retail anchor, and the tax incentives for real estate development projects in Opportunity Zone areas.

Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods and the increasing online presence of warehouse and discount stores demonstrates the growing interconnection between online and offline (physical, brick-and-mortar) shopping.  Walmart or Target customers can now order online and have same-day delivery or pick up at a nearby store. Related Cos., the real estate developer of the Hudson Yards—New York’s biggest mixed-use commercial development that opens in March 2019—just acquired Quiet Logistics, a distribution and logistics company that specializes in catering to primarily online retailers because primary online retailers have also set up shop in Hudson Yards.[4]  Grocery stores and restaurants/fast foods are also offering online ordering and delivery companies (e.g., Uber Eats, Grub Hub) or have tied up with delivery companies (DoorDash for McDonald’s orders ).

The trend towards mixed-use commercial and transit-oriented development will continue to prop up the demand for brick-and-mortar/physical stores around which mixed-use, transit development is anchored on (e.g., Harris Teeter is the anchor for the Merrifield development near the Dunn-Loring Metro station in Falls Church, VA). The just opened 28-acre Hudson Yards in New York City has a seven-story mall, office and residential properties, a hotel, school, cultural center, parkland, and public space.[5]

The tax incentives for projects in Opportunity Zone areas is another positive factor that will support the construction of brick-and-mortar stores.[6]

The shift from ‘big box’ development to small format stores in urban areas, such as what Walmart and Target are doing in the Washington, DC area[7], also presents a growth opportunity for brick-and-mortar retailing.

To be able to take advantage of these opportunities, brick-and-mortars will need to enhance their logistics (warehouse, packaging, distribution, last-mile delivery), use technology to improve the customer’s experience at all phases of the shopping experience from product search (e.g., using visual search instead of text search) to the check-out, physical delivery, or pickup, and to understand that the physical store is a place to create brand impact and awareness.

Retail Trade Employment Still Growing in Half of Metro Areas

While the retail trade sector is facing huge challenges from e-commerce sales on a national scale, retail trade employment is still growing in metros that are attracting people, jobs, and housing construction. Of 405 metropolitan areas and metropolitan divisions[8], 47 percent created net retail trade jobs over the past three years from 2015 Q4 to 2018 Q4. Below are the top metro areas which created 5,000 or more retail trade jobs during this period.

  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA (39, 100);
  • Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX (14,300);
  • Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX (10,000);
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul- Bloomington, MN-WI (9,200)
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell (8,600);
  • Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN (7,200);
  • Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA (6,900)
  • Austin -Round Rock, TX (6,000)
  • San Francisco -Oakland-Hayward, CA (5,900)
  • Jacksonville, FL (5,900)
  • Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC (5,900)
  • Columbus, OH (5,600)
  • Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO (5,400)
  • Provo-Orem, UT (5,200)
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL (5,200)
  • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN (5,100)


[1] Source: U.S. Census Bureau Monthly Retail Sales, seasonally adjusted, downloaded from Haver Analytics

[2] Think of brick and mortar big names that have shuttered—Sears, Marshall Field’s, Hecht’s, Kids R’ Us, Woolworth, Filene’s Basement, Borders, Crown Books, Kaufmann’s, Linens ‘n Things, Sports Authority, Herman’s, Hhgregg, Circuit City, Comp USA, FAO Schwarz,— or have had major store closings such as Macy’s, JC Penny, Kohl’s, Lord & Taylor, and Toys R’ Us

[3] The mean duration of unemployment is 8.9 weeks in January 2019. The average duration has been on the downtrend since 2011 with the average duration at 22 weeks.

[4] Bisnow, “Related Cos Makes Inroads into Logistics to Provide Amazon Alternative”; see https://bit.ly/2T8njar

[5] Globe St. “Hudson Yards Open: Going Inside Vessel”, https://www.globest.com/2019/03/18/hudson-yards-opens-going-inside-vessel-slideshow/?kw=Hudson%20Yards%20Opens:%20Going%20Inside%20Vessel%20%28Slideshow%29&et=editorial&bu=REM&cn=20190318&src=EMC-Email&pt=NewYork

[6] Bisnow” Developers Sign Trader Joe’s for Silver Spring Opportunity Zone Project”; see https://bit.ly/2CnqwgR

[7] DC North Star “New Target Store Coming to DC”; see http://dcnorthstar.com/target-georgia-avenue/

[8] Divisions are part of metropolitan areas, so there is some double-counting of the total number of metro areas and divisions. However, when we get the share of metro areas and divisions which have negative retail trade growth to the total number of metro areas and divisions, there is no practically no double counting.

Boom or Bust for Spring Homebuying?

Home prices reached an all-time high in most markets in 2018. Homeowners benefited greatly as a result, with their overall net wealth rising by a cool $1 trillion. A typical homeowner’s wealth is estimated to have reached $254,000 while that of a typical renter stood at only $5,000.  Looking ahead, home values are poised to advance further in 2019, albeit more modestly.  However, home sales slumped badly in the closing months of last year. Persistent sales declines are nearly always associated with dampening home prices and homes sitting on the market for a lengthier time.

Read the full article at Forbes >

State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT): The Impact by State

The state and local tax (SALT) deduction allows taxpayers to deduct state and local tax payments on their federal tax returns. The new tax law, called the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, instituted a cap on the SALT deduction. Starting from the 2018 tax year, the maximum SALT deduction that taxpayers are able to claim is up to $10,000. In contrast, before the new tax law, there was no limit. This blog focuses on what the reduced deduction means for taxpayers, especially in high-tax states like California, New York and New Jersey. However, let’s first understand how the state and local tax deduction works.

What is the state and local tax deduction?

Taxpayers who itemize their deductions, and therefore don’t take the standard deduction, can deduct what they’ve paid in certain state and local taxes. The SALT deduction includes property, income and sales taxes. To be more specific, a taxpayer who itemizes can deduct property taxes but the taxpayer needs to choose between deducting income and sales taxes. Taxpayers of states with high income taxes typically opt to deduct their state and local income taxes while taxpayers of states with high sales taxes typically deduct their sales taxes. Generally, taxpayers deduct property and income taxes using the SALT deduction.

Nationwide, 30 percent of the taxpayers used the SALT deduction, while the average SALT deduction was $12,540 in the 2016 tax year.

How will the reduced SALT affect taxpayers by each state?

Starting with the 2018 tax year, taxpayers’ SALT deductions are limited to $10,000. However, especially in high-tax states, itemizing taxpayers typically pay an amount higher than this limit. Let’s take a closer look at where most taxpayers claim the SALT deduction and how much they deduct on average.

NAR calculated the percentage of taxpayers that used the SALT deduction and the average deduction for 50 states and DC. In the 2016 tax year, the states with the highest percentage of taxpayers using the SALT deduction are in the Northeast and West regions. The percentage claiming the deduction ranged from 17 percent in West Virginia to 46 percent in Maryland in 2016. In the meantime, the average deduction ranged from $5,130 in Alaska to $21,780 in New York.

For instance, more than 40 percent of the taxpayers claimed the SALT deduction in California, New York and New Jersey while the average deductions in these three states were all over $18,000.

SALT deduction by income level

While the SALT deduction is used across all income levels, the amount of SALT deductions by lower, middle, and upper income taxpayers provides insight into how those taxpayers benefit. Nationwide, almost 40 percent of taxpayers earning between $50,000 to $75,000 per year and more than 70 percent of taxpayers earning $100,000 to $200,000 per year used the SALT deduction. For income brackets above $200,000, almost all of those upper income taxpayers claimed the deduction.

When looking at the total amount deducted by income bracket, it is clear that the SALT deduction benefits taxpayers across all brackets. Specifically, taxpayers earning more than $100,000 deducted above $10,000 (the new limit) on average. These taxpayers represent 14 percent of all taxpayers nationwide.

For more detail information and to scroll across the various parts of the U.S., see below:

 

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