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Pandemic impacts Austin retail market

Pandemic impacts Austin retail market

Matt Epple, executive vice president and director of brokerage for Weitzman’s Austin office, discussed the metro’s retail market.

Q. Where does occupancy stand?

Austin’s 51-million-square-foot retail market ended 2020 with 95-percent occupancy, considered healthy but a decline of 1 percent due to increased closings.

What factors contributed to occupancy remaining healthy?

Take restaurants, one of the harder-hit categories. Even as some close, many are being backfilled by new concepts. Demand exists for larger vacancies as well. Additionally, metro Austin added only 402,000 square feet of new space last year.

What is your take on market performance in 2021?

Austin will benefit from corporate moves, like Tesla’s new gigafactory and Oracle’s headquarters relocation. Metro Austin also reports robust residential construction. If the vaccines become widely distributed, we should see stronger retail in 2021 and a return to pre-pandemic performance by 2022.