Commercial Real Estate

Shopping for Retail Space? Retail Property Comes In All Shapes and Sizes

Did you ever stop to think just how many different types of retail property are available for sale or for lease? There are almost as many different types of retail property for sale and retail property for lease as there are retailers.

Retail property is a broad category encompassing many different types of retail buildings and shopping centers, each with different characteristics designed to support different retail operations. In searching for retail for sale or retail lease, it is useful to have a basic understanding of the differences between various retail and shopping center types.

Community Retail Centers

Community retail centers are a mainstay of U.S. retail activity found in most suburban shopping areas. They typically range in size from 100,000 square feet to 350,000 square feet and offer a wider range of apparel and other soft goods than smaller neighborhood retail centers. Among the more common "big box" or retail anchor store for sale found in community retail centers are supermarkets, super drugstores and discount department stores such as Target or Sears. Community retail center tenants sometimes include value-oriented big-box category dominant retailers selling such items as apparel, home improvement/furnishings, toys, electronics or sporting goods. These shopping centers are usually configured in a straight line (or strip) with extensive surface parking. They may also be built in an "L" or "U" shape, depending on the site and design. Of all the retail property types, community centers encompass the widest range of formats. Certain centers that are anchored by a large discount department store and include a high percentage of square footage allocated to off-price retailers can be termed "off-price centers."

Lifestyle Retail Centers

Lifestyle retail centers are a relatively new addition to the retail for sale and retail space for lease market. Often located near affluent residential neighborhoods, this type of retail property caters primarily to "lifestyle" shoppers, those that enjoy shopping as entertainment or a leisure activity focused on the experience of shopping rather than on convenience or necessity products. Lifestyle retail centers have an open-air configuration and typically include a variety of upscale national apparel and specialty chain stores. They measure between 150,000 square feet to 500,000 square feet. Among the elements that differentiate lifestyle retail centers from other retail space are qualities that make it a multi-purpose leisure-time destination, including upscale or trendy restaurants and entertainment, as well as onsite design elements as fountains, abundant landscaping and outdoor seating areas. These centers may be anchored by one or more conventional or fashion-specialty department stores. A lifestyle center is made up of many of the same tenants as the traditional enclosed mall, however its location, design and accessibility are distinctly different. It is often compared with a "Main Street" retail concept, characterized by a large patronage by local shoppers who visit regularly for shopping or leisure activates, with plentiful parking provided directly in front of the stores.

Neighborhood Retail Centers

Neighborhood shopping centers are designed to provide convenience shopping for the day-to-day needs of consumers in the immediate neighborhood. They are usually located along major commuter routes and other high traffic areas. Most retail property of this type includes a supermarket and many also have a drugstore. A neighborhood retail center is usually configured as a straight-line strip with no enclosed walkways and surface parking facing the stores. They range in size from 30,000 square feet to 150,000 square feet.

Outlet Retail Centers

Outlet retail centers consist primarily of manufacturers' and retailers' outlet stores selling brand-name goods at a discount. The majority of outlet centers are open-air (not enclosed) and configured either in a strip or sometimes with groups of stores clustered in a "village"-type format. They range in size from 50,000 square feet to 400,000 square feet.

Power Retail Centers

Power centers are dominated by several large big-box anchors, including discount department stores, off-price stores, electronics or appliance super stores, warehouse clubs, or "category killers", i.e., stores that offer a vast selection in related merchandise categories at very competitive retail prices. The stores may be connected or freestanding and usually include a minimum number of small specialty tenants. The size of power retail centers range from 250,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet.

Specialty Theme / Festival Centers

One specialty type of retail for sale or retail for lease is the Theme/Festival shopping center, so called because it has a unifying theme that is carried out by the individual shops in their architecture and, to an extent, in their merchandise. Entertainment is often a common element of such centers, and these retail centers are often located in popular tourist destinations. Theme/festival retail centers may be anchored by restaurants and entertainment facilities and often re-use older, sometimes historic, buildings. They range in size from 80,000 square feet to 250,000 square feet are sometimes included as part of mixed-use developments.

Strip/Convenience Retail Centers

Similar to community retail centers only smaller in size, convenience retail centers (or strip centers as they are sometimes called) feature a row of stores or service outlets managed as a single retail entity, with on-site parking usually located in front of the stores. The stores may be configured in a straight line, or have an "L" or "U"shape. A convenience retail center is among the smallest of shopping centers. They measure 30,000 square feet or less and include a small convenience store anchor such as 7-Eleven or other mini-mart.

Super Regional and Regional Centers

Super-regional and regional retail centers are the largest types of retail centers and include the enclosed mall formats many shoppers are familiar with. A regional retail center includes stores offering a wide variety of shopping goods, general merchandise, apparel and home furnishings. Most are built around a full-line department store with a minimum gross leasing area of 100,000 square feet and may range from 300,000 square feet to more than 1,000,000 square feet. Regional centers in excess of 750,000 square feet GLA with three or more department stores are considered Super Regional retail centers and draw shoppers from a larger population base. Typical configuration is an enclosed mall, frequently with multi-levels. Parking may also be structured to accommodate the sheer size of the center. Super-regional shopping centers range in size from 800,000 square feet and up.

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