Southern Nevada’s retail market is most saturated in the nation, report says

Tropicana Centre fell on hard times during the recession but is now recovering and adding tenants.

Driving around Las Vegas, it’s easy to think the valley has far too much retail, as shopping plazas big and small line the main roadways with a seemingly endless amount of big-box stores, eateries, clothing shops and beauty salons.

Southern Nevada, it turns out, is the most saturated retail market in the country.

A new report, by publisher Directory of Major Malls and mail-services and software company Pitney Bowes, says Las Vegas has 44.9 square feet of gross leasable retail space per household. That’s highest among the 54 U.S. metro areas with at least 1.5 million residents.

Phoenix is No. 2 at 42.5 square feet, and Albuquerque, N.M., is last at 13 square feet.

Las Vegas also has the youngest retail centers in the country, with an average opening year of 1999. Phoenix again was No. 2, at 1998, and three cities were tied for last, at 1981 — Buffalo, N.Y., Louisville, Ky., and Baltimore.

The report looked at nearly 5,000 shopping centers nationally, all with at least 200,000 square feet of leasable space.

Las Vegas’ resort corridor is packed with malls, and Hal Hopson, a managing director with Pitney Bowes, said one reason the valley tops the list is because a lot of its retail centers cater to tourists.

But his group’s findings also seem to highlight how overbuilt Las Vegas became during the boom years, when developers, backed by easy money, flooded the valley with tract housing, strip malls, office buildings, warehouses and other properties.

National retail chains are everywhere in Las Vegas. As of 2012, the valley had the most Wal-Marts in the country — 19 within 10 miles from the center of town, according to Forbes magazine.

“For a city of just under 2 million, that’s a whole lot of Wal-Mart,” Forbes wrote.

Local retail plazas were filled with tenants during the boom years but emptied out during the recession, when shoppers cut back on spending and stores went out of business.

The vacancy rate for anchored retail centers soared from about 4 percent in 2007 to 12 percent in 2011, according to Colliers International. The rate was 9.9 percent in the first quarter this year, down slightly from 10.1 percent a year ago.

In the past decade, average asking rents for anchored centers peaked locally in the fourth quarter of 2007, at $2.28 per square foot. They’re now $1.25, down from $1.29 a year ago, Colliers reported.

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