2013 Franklin County Retail Report Released

Press Release:
Franklin County, Columbus Chamber Release 2013 Franklin County Retail Report
Key report findings focus on sales tax revenue, real estate vacancy rates

Columbus, OH – Sales tax revenues are rebounding and retail vacancy rates continue to decrease, according to the 2013 Franklin County Retail Report unveiled today at the Franklin County Retail Summit. The annual event, featuring insight from industry experts, was hosted by the Franklin County Board of Commissioners and the Columbus Chamber.

“Retail is the engine of our economy,” said John O’Grady, president of the Franklin County Board of Commissioners. “Franklin is the fastest growing county in the state, and has regained all of the jobs it lost during the recession, but many businesses have continued to struggle. We’re focusing today on ways to help new and current local retailers get a jump on the recovery.”

The report provides a glimpse into Franklin County’s retail sector, which continues to recover. Retail-based sales tax revenues are a key indicator of the industry’s progress, gaining back six of the 10 percentage points lost from 2008 to 2009 – during the height of the recession. Retail vacancy rates also are at 10.2 percent as of the third quarter of 2012, down from a high of 13.2 percent in the second quarter of 2009.

“We’re fortunate in Central Ohio to have a dynamic economy and resilient, financially-optimistic residents,” said County Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “The recession and the rise of online shopping have hurt local businesses, but we know that our innovative retailers have lots of ways to provide service and experience that you can’t get online. I’m very optimistic about the future of retail in Franklin County.”

Jung Kim, the Columbus Chamber’s research director, included the following highlights in the 2013 Franklin County Retail Report:

• From 2009 to 2011, Franklin County’s retail sales tax revenue rose 6.2 percent as it recovered from the recession. In 2012, revenue jumped another 8.6 percent compared to 2011, rising above pre-recession levels.

• The retail real estate vacancy rate in the Columbus market continues to decrease, down from a peak of 13.2 percent in the second quarter of 2009 to 10.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012.

• Showing growth from 2006 to 2012, top-performing retail categories include: clothing and accessories (23.5 percent); food and beverage (32.6 percent); gas stations (18.0 percent); and accommodation and food services (19.8 percent).

• With the growth of e-commerce, “retail” employment is shifting to the transportation/warehousing industry. Compared to the early 2000s, seasonal employment in retail is now half, while seasonal employment in transportation housing is now double.

• Franklin County boasts favorable demographics for retail, with proportionately higher shares of young families, couples and professionals compared to U.S. levels.

“Franklin County’s retail sector is coming back fairly strongly following the recession, mirroring the strong economic development growth in Central Ohio,” said Michael Dalby, president and CEO, Columbus Chamber. “Our hope is that local retailers and businesses impacted by retail will find this report useful as they map out their growth plans for the remainder of 2013 and beyond.”

Said Commissioner Paula Brooks, “Franklin County is a relatively young community and reflects this in our retail habits. By understanding our niche as the fastest growing county in Ohio, we can work with the private sector to help the retail economy continue its central Ohio rebound. The projects in Worthington and Upper Arlington augment with ‘re-vitalization’ what has been great and continuing growth in retail at Easton.”

A full version of the 2013 Franklin County Retail Report is available at www.columbus.org.

Photos by Erin Bloodgood.