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TRC Blog

November 07 , 2012

Setting the Curve

Setting the Curve

by Steven A. Lieberman and Alan P. Shor.  The Texas economy continues to set the curve for the nation’s recovery, leading the country in job growth, housing formation and values, consumer confidence, retail occupancy, absorption & development. On a parallel course, The Retail Connection continues to raise the bar on ourselves as we invest in our infrastructure, with top talent, technology, research and related resources. We continue to establish TRC as the leading retail brokerage, advisory and investment firm in the Southwest, and move closer to our objective of becoming the premier servicer and owner of retail real estate in the core markets we serve by our 10th anniversary [2014]. The ongoing strength of our primary markets and the depth of our connection to such all combine to provide us the platform and capacity to accomplish superior results for our team, clients and partners.
The overall environment in which we operate remains positive. Our national economy continues to improve and is showing definite signs of growth. By adding an average of 148,000 jobs per month for the last twenty months, the unemployment rate has improved to 7.8% as of October 2012. Consumer spending is up 5.4% this year over last year, and household net worth is at its highest level since 2007. We continue to have historically low interest rates and the fear of a “double-dip” recession has greatly diminished. As a result, the consumer confidence index is up to 134 in October, its highest level since before the recession hit.
This continued improvement of our economy and consumer confidence has resulted in stronger and more accelerated retail growth. During the recession, the retail industry was forced to slow capital spending, close unprofitable stores and reduce corporate expenses. As a result, retailers became lean, efficient and at the right time, poised for significant growth. Both national and local retailers are enjoying such growth and TRC’s retail clients, including Nordstrom Rack, PetSmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, VisionWorks, and others, are actively expanding. As a result, rents are slowly increasing, vacancies are projected down and new development is starting to progress.
By comparison, Texas has fared even better than the national rebound. In Texas, unemployment is at 6.9% versus 8.3% last year. Consumer spending is up 7.5% and vacancies are down to 8%. Texas continues to set the curve for the nation in job growth, access to capital and consumer confidence and, in the last two years, more people have moved to our state than the next three states combined. Although Texas has only 8% of the U.S. population, we have added nearly 19% of the nation’s population growth this year. As a result, the GDP in Texas grew by 2.4% compared with 1.6% for the U.S.
Our Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin offices are in four of the top ten markets nationally for the most favorable business environments and economic health. Dallas and Houston remain the top two markets in the country in new job creation. San Antonio continues to be a steady and vibrant retail market. Our newest office, Austin, has shown tremendous growth. In our first six months, our Austin team has grown to 10 and is currently leasing | managing over 2 million square feet of properties. We are extremely excited about our future opportunities in one of the country’s most popular markets.
Year-to-date our team has grown by over 20% to 88 people.  The new additions were made in brokerage, development, finance, research, property management and administration, reflecting how all areas of our business continue to grow.  We continue to enhance and develop our client base on both the landlord and tenant sides of the equation, enriching our representation of now 234 of the leading retail and restaurant chains in the market and 246 shopping centers for over 25 million square feet of property listings.  As well, we continue to grow our property management division, Connected Management Services, with great clients.  Our advisory business continues to analyze concepts and expansion opportunities from coast to coast, and from Mexico City to New York City, leading us into new assignments and investments as we deliver on our clients' objectives and extend the reach of their real estate programs.  

Our tenant-driven investment collaborations continue to deliver extraordinary results and growth opportunities for our clients and partners.  2011 - 2112 will turn out to be the springboard for a long term period of strong growth for our development, redevelopment and acquisition divisions.  The properties we acquired last year - Village On The Parkway and Shackleford Crossings, are actively being redeveloped and leased up. We will close over 600,000 square feet of acquisitions in 2012, including Towne East Plaza in Dallas, Willowbrook Plaza in Houston and the former Target building in San Antonio.  We are in motion on several developments in Texas and surrounding markets, including Tyler, Killeen and Benton, Arkansas.  Two of our Connected Capital investments had IPO's this year, and we completed our ninth merchant banking deal.  

Our unmatched clients, team and partners continue to play irreplaceable roles in all that we accomplish.  As always, we sincerely appreciate your invaluable impact on our success and are proud to be on your team.