Orange County Retail Market Report
Post-Pandemic Recovery Aided by Influx of Tech-Field Talent
Orange County still recuperating. The market's retail fundamentals weathered the pandemic better than the neighboring metros of Los Angeles and San Diego, due in part to less severe health restrictions. In the second quarter of 2022, local vacancy was only 50 basis points over the 2019 rate, while the other two southern California metros lag by 70-plus basis points. The return of in-store shopping is reflected in recent hiring trends, with more than 80 percent of pandemic-related retail trade job losses recovered as of August. The margin was close to 90 percent for bars and restaurants. Meanwhile, traditionally office-using jobs will exceed pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2022, revitalizing important midweek foot traffic for sections of the market like the Airport Area, which saw substantial office vacancy rises during the pandemic. Stronger weekday consumer activity should aid retail fundamentals through the rest of 2022.