The Boise Retail Market is Augmented by Local Growth

by Jeff Shaw

By Tim Reid, First Vice President, CBRE

Boise’s retail market continues to show signs of resiliency in the wake of a global downturn caused by the pandemic. Though retail companies pivoted their business models to accommodate social distancing policies and provide contactless options last year, many were still forced to close their doors. The retail outlook is now much brighter after the industry experienced an incredibly turbulent year. 

Beginning in April, Idaho’s year-over-year retail sales rebounded 56.3 percent after dropping to 22.7 percent in 2020. Much of that progress can be attributed to Idaho’s strong fundamentals, including the state’s robust population growth. Idaho led the nation as the second-fastest growing state in the past decade, adding 17.3

Tim Reid, First Vice President, CBRE

percent to the population from 2010 to 2020. This state also houses several of the fastest-growing cities in the nation. While much of the migration to Boise City came from within the state, relocations from the West Coast — namely, California, Washington and Oregon — surged, accounting for 17.5 percent of last year’s growth. Those moving tend to be young, affluent, childless professionals seeking urban locations. While this migration pattern is not new, relocations to the Treasure Valley were amplified by the pandemic. These dynamics will continue to push retail demand for an evolving consumer base. 

Retailers that initially paused leasing due to the pandemic are moving forward with new deals or expansions. Likewise, development has also resumed, albeit with added challenges due to rising construction costs. Being located within walkable districts, especially downtown, will continue to be advantageous for retailers as much of the new housing construction is taking on more vertical, high-dense forms. The biggest challenge for retail in the near term will be a short supply of labor for service-related fields, an issue both locally and nationally. However, looking ahead, the combination of a strong supply of customers, coupled with pent-up demand and positive consumer sentiment, is paving the way for a continued positive retail outlook in Boise. 

— Matt Naumann, Vice President, CBRE also contributed to this article

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