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Updated: April 15, 2024

Despite adversity, retail market is expected to be strong this year

old brick and granite building COURTESY / MALONE COMMERCIAL BROKERS Philadelphia apparel retailer Free People this year signed a 10-year lease for a storefront at 121 Middle St. in Portland’s Old Port neighborhood.

One potentially adverse factor that could impact the retail real estate market this year is that interest rates are still high, said Peter Harrington of Malone Commercial Brokers, who wrote a retail forecast for Greater Portland.

person standing in from of boats at dock
Peter Harrington

“This could lead to a slowdown in some of the retail that’s directly related to housing in the U.S.,” Harrington wrote. “Weather has been another factor. There have been major weather events coast to coast which have affected retail a little bit since the beginning of the year.”

Despite those factors, he continued, “we think 2024 will be another good year for retail” due to strong wage growth, additional jobs being added and expansion of the U.S. economy.

“Retail is a sector that everyone thought would no longer be as viable with the onslaught of online shopping,” he said. “This has proven to be incorrect. People are still going out and shopping in physical stores. I don’t see that trend ending in the U.S. anytime soon.”

He predicted that, without new retail space being added, overall vacancy rates will remain low.

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