Construction spending for multi-retail buildings (defined as shopping malls, shopping centers, department stores, and big box retailers) is currently 50% higher than a year ago, and is more than double the low point reached during the last recession in early 2003. Growth is so strong, in fact, that the multi-retail sector is expected to account for all retail construction growth through 2008.
Construction spending slipped $1 billion during the same period for the balance of the retail sector, including auto dealers, warehouses, standalone retail outlets, food stores, and restaurants and bars, among others.
This divergence reflects changing consumer preferences for retail outlets. The multi-retailers offer lower-cost products as well as a more attractive shopping environment, and as a consequence the industry is heading toward larger and more complex buildings, often including features such as large atriums or indoor recreation areas. This shift translates into contract opportunities for designers, materials suppliers, and builders.