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Special Report

National Retail Outlook

Fourth Quarter 2020

Retail Operating Fundamentals Soften in Third Quarter; Widespread Weakness Avoided as Some Sectors Remain Healthy

Retail market faces new realities and old challenges. Although the health crisis has not yet significantly weakened retail fundamentals, the number of announced store closings and shift forward in online shopping will reshape some of brick-and-mortar retail. The likelihood of more persistent weakness will be isolated to older malls, though a failure to find a solution to the health crisis in the near term could present long-term challenges elsewhere. Malls have long been struggling to maintain occupancy levels, and the health crisis accelerated that trend. The pandemic also increased a preference to online shopping. Nonstore retailers have recorded a 22 percent increase in retail sales since from February to September, and a significant portion of that shift could be retained after the pandemic is over.
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