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Special Report

Suburban Retail Outlook Research Brief

March 2022

Suburban Retail Properties Outperform as Health Concerns Abate;
Downtown Locations Wait on the Return of Commuters

Retailers in suburban areas recovering more quickly. Economic shutdowns and social distancing parameters impaired all retailers, but had the heaviest impact on properties in urban corridors. Not only were health precautions often more stringent in these settings, the shift of many normally office-bound employees to remote work led to a sharp drop in daily commuter foot traffic.  Newly untethered, many of these workers relocated further away from downtown areas. This, in turn, translated into fewer leisure and business trips into these areas, further weighing on foot traffic. While many of these restrictions are now lifted, tenants in central business districts continue to lag in recovery relative to their suburban counterparts. Multiple factors are behind this divergence, which is having a decisive impact on retailers’ space decisions.

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