Houston Retail Market Posts Strong First Quarter, But COVID-19 Impacts Loom, Says Colliers

by Taylor Williams

HOUSTON — Although vacancy ticked up slightly and asking rents fell marginally relative to the fourth quarter of 2019, Houston’s retail market emerged from the first quarter of 2020 with a high occupancy rate (94.6 percent), positive net absorption (400,000 square feet) and positive year-over-year rent growth (6.5 percent triple-net), according to a new report from Colliers International. The market also had 1.7 million square feet of new retail space under construction at the end of the first quarter, which the report cites as one of the lower quarterly figures for this cycle. However, negative impacts due to the COVID-19 outbreak will inevitably hit the market during the second and third quarters, the report projected. The Colliers research team found that Houston restaurants that have traditionally favored dine-in service have reported revenue declines as high as 90 percent in some cases. With many retailers not expected to reopen after the pandemic subsides, the report found that Houston’s vacancy rate could spike to 12 or higher by year’s end, putting downward pressure on rents.

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