Retail Midwest

CBRE: Big-box retailers not dead, just evolving

German grocer Lidl plans to open its first stores in the United States this summer.

It's easy to think that big-box, big-name retailers are going extinct. Shoppers are flocking to Amazon and other online retailers to buy everything from furniture to computers to suits. And the headlines are filled with big-name retailers such as Macy's, Sears and J.C. Penney announcing their latest round of closures.

But a new report from CBRE says that the outlook isn't so glum for all big-box retailers.

CBRE's report, released yesterday, says that big-box retailers are on schedule to open hundreds of new stores spanning tens of millions of square feet this year. In all, CBRE says, 13 big retailers plan to open nearly 1,700 stores in the United States this year. These new stores will total 40 million square feet of retail space.

"Granted, we will see an increase in vacancy in the big-box sector due to recent bankruptcies and closures," said Melina Cordero, head of research in the Americas for CBRE, in a written statement. "But the hoopla about those collapses nearly ignores that many retailers in the big-box category continue to open additional stores. Some -- perhaps a lot -- of the big-box space now being vacated won't be empty for long."

Which big-box retailers are opening new locations this year? Not surprisingly, the list is headed by discounters. CBRE reports that Dollar General plans to open 1,000 stores across the country in 2017, with each store covering an average of 9,100 square feet. TJ Maxx is planning a big year, too, on schedule to open 197 stores this year, each new store having an average of 28,200 square feet.

German-based grocer, which specializes in low-cost food, plans to open about 100 stores in the country by the summer of 2018 and up to 600 stores over the longer-term. These stores will range in size from 30,000 to 36,000 square feet. Beauty chain Ulta announced that it will open 100 stores in 2017. But the company's long-range plans are even more impressive; it expects to open 1,400 to 1,700 new locations in the coming years.

Ross, a discount clothing store, will open 70 of its name-brand stores in 2017 and 20 of its dd's DISCOUNTS clothing and home stores. Dick's Sporting Goods, one of the few remaining big-box survivors in the sporting goods sector, plans to open 43 of its namesake stores this year, nine Golf Galaxy stores and eight Field & Stream stores, large boxes that will be an average of 49,300 square feet.

So, it looks like the big-box segment isn't dead. It's just evolving, with discounters now dominating this space.