The Columbus Chamber and Franklin County Commissioners release 2014 Retail Report this morning at Retail Summit

This morning, the Columbus Chamber and Franklin County Board of Commissioners are hosting the 2014 Franklin County Retail Summit at the Renaissance Hotel. This year's conference is focused on "What's in Store: Design, Digital Convergence and Personalization."

During the Summit, Columbus 2020 and Chamber research director Jung Kim will reveal the results of Franklin County's annual Retail Report. The report takes the pulse of the county's retail sector, compares the regional climate to retail in peer metros, and highlights trends with an eye towards helping local retailers capitalize on current and future trends.

Below are some key takeaways from the report's findings:

Retail employment is stabilizing: "From 2001 to 2009, the annual loss in retail employment in Franklin County ranged from 2.4 to 5.9 percent. After smaller losses in 2010 and 2011, retail employment finally showed an uptick in 2012 with an increase of 533 jobs (+0.8 percent). According to EMSI, county retail employment increased again in 2013, up 1.7 percent to 68,349 employees."
Retail jobs are "leaking" from Franklin into contiguous counties: "During 2000-1012 franklin Co.'s pop. grew by 10%, but Franklin County lost more than 26,000 jobs in the retail sector, a decline of 28 percent. The rest of the metro area saw retail employment increase by 6,400 jobs, not enough to counterbalance Franklin County's loss, but a gain of 25 percent among the outer counties.

Among selected metro areas roughly similar to Columbus in size, Nashville, Indianapolis,Charlotte and Austin also show leakage out of their core counties." Restaurant employment remains steady: "In contrast to retail, employment in Franklin County restaurants and bars has remained steady over time, up 9.4 percent from 47,527 in 2001 to 51,973 in 2012. The rest of the metro area has seen restaurant and bar employment increase 50.8 percent from 14,332 in 2001 to 21,614 in 2012." Key gainers in the retail sector: "Among the 12 major retail trade categories in Franklin County, the top gainers between 2012 and 2013 were non-store retail (26.7%) and electronic and appliance stores (18.3%).

The worst performing categories were miscellaneous stores (-22.9%) and building material and garden supplies (-10.6%), a significant reversal of their growth the previous year." Retail vacancy down, but rental rates remain stable: "Since a peak of 13.2 percent in the second quarter of 2009, the retail vacancy rate in the area comprising Franklin County and the adjacent six counties steadily decreased to 9.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013."

Since mid-2011, rent rates for both neighborhood and power center retail have hovered in the $11-12 per square foot range. Retail absorption in 2013 was the highest since 2009 but drew upon existing supply rather than new construction."