As a retailer, trying to figure out where to strategically locate your stores is the crux of the job. “The most expensive thing a retailer can do is open a nonperforming store,” said Rich Hollander, president of the CustomerID division of Buxton, a retail real estate market research firm. Buxton has provided a list of the 12 metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the most apparel stores per capita. Stores per person were calculated by dividing the total metro area population by the total number of apparel stores. The hottest retail trends in these regions: catering to upscale shoppers (Coral Gables, Fla.), college towns (Pittsfield, Mass.) and tourist havens (Myrtle Beach, S.C.).
- Myrtle Beach, S.C.
One store for every 626 people
Situated across 350 acres of land in Myrtle Beach, Broadway at the Beach is considered to be the largest entertainment complex in South Carolina. The 100-plus specialty stores — including Victoria’s Secret, Gap and Tango Bay Clothing — alone attract children, teens, adults and seniors year-round, making it an ideal locale to set up shop. Plenty of T-shirt and beach shops are also prominent here.
- Atlantic City-Cape May, N.J.
One store for every 822 people
Betting on Atlantic City’s opportunities for retail might be a wise gamble these days. The Walk, for example, is just one of several shopping centers making its presence known in A.C. It is located one block from the Boardwalk and has plans to double its size in new shops and restaurants — while adding offices and condos above the stores, thanks to demand for retailers to move in. Other recent popular retail center additions to the neighborhood include The Quarter at Tropicana Casino and Resort and The Pier at Caesars.
- Naples, Fla.
One store for every 882 people
Naples is a shopping haven, mainly because it has the privilege of attracting consumers old and young. The area draws more than one million visitors a year and currently has 299,080 residents. Both tourists and residents — especially retired citizens — make the time to find climate-appropriate clothing 12 months out of the year here. In addition to apparel, the area is also known for its eclectic jewelry, antiques and home furnishings.
- Barnstable-Yarmouth, MASS.
One store for every 922 people
The retail industry provides Cape Cod, Mass.’s region of Barnstable-Yarmouth with 14.4 percent employment. “Retail is a little of everything here,” said Lynn Mason, director of communications for the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce. “There are pockets of areas with specialty shops, but you also have large malls that carry the typical apparel stores.” She also mentioned the demand for retailers in the area was mostly due to the heavy summer visitor traffic.
- Miami, FLA.
One store for every 994 people
It’s common knowledge that Miami’s South Beach is a mecca when it comes to upscale shopping. But what about other areas of the region that offer up retail fun in the sun? Upscale suburb Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile is literally a strip of road that holds a variety of more than 170 shops and is continuing to expand. Nearby Coconut Grove houses CocoWalk, a Mediterranean-style shopping, dining and entertainment complex. And The Shoppes at West Avenue is an upscale shopping center located in Miami Beach, which is currently renting out retail space.
- Santa Fe, N.M.
One store for every 1,013 people
Climate isn’t the only thing attracting people to this area of the southwestern U.S. Santa Fe caters to the Mexican, American and Indian cultures — making it a unique shopping destination. Outdoor sportswomen and older retired seniors are retail targets in this area. Specialty apparel stores include: ViVi Knits of Santa Fe, Sangre de Cristo Mountain Works, New Territory Leathers and Montecristi Hats.
- Los Angeles-Long Beach, Calif.
One store for every 1,022 people
Not only does it boast its own fashion district, but L.A. also has several areas of town serving the needs of hungry shoppers. Rodeo Drive is one of the best-known shopping streets in the world. It begins at Wilshire Boulevard on the south, and runs north to Santa Monica Boulevard, proudly housing retailers such as: Gucci, Christian Dior, Ralph Lauren and Valentino.
- San Francisco, Calif.
One store for every 1,076 people
CustomerID’s Hollander considers the San Francisco region, population 1,816,110, to be an area of retail interest because it is a “gateway community.” “You’ve got a lot of international customers moving through this city,” he said. “The retail industry has to satisfy the needs of customers who are residents, but it needs to accommodate those who are traveling in and out of the communities.” Other shoppers in this area are college students. The San Francisco area is home to schools like Stanford and UC-Berkeley. The number of apparel stores in this region totals 1,688.
- Jersey City, N.J.
One store for every 1,078 people
Jersey City, located just over the Hudson River and a stone’s throw from Manhattan, has been expanding in both population and retail recently, thanks to cheaper rents than New York City. As the luxury housing boom continues along the waterfront, retailers are in demand to keep up with residents’ needs. Other restoration projects have been implemented, like the $40 million MLK HUB retail redevelopment project. In the heart of Jersey City is Newport Centre Mall, which houses apparel stores such as: J.C. Penney, Macy’s and Ann Taylor Loft.
- Pittsfield, Mass.
One store for every 1,082 people
Seven colleges with over 2,000 students enrolled can be found within 45 miles of the town of Pittsfield, located in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. “Our findings tell us that college students buy clothes, and you can’t ignore the number of colleges and universities in Massachusetts,” said Hollander. There are 110, to be exact. Pittsfield is also home to three public high schools, three private high schools and 14 primary schools (public and private). What a target retail audience. The number of apparel stores per capita may seem small (93), but with a population of only 100,649, Pittsfield qualifies as number 10.
- New York, N.Y.
One store for every 1,086 people
The latest news in retail for New York: a chunk of Times Square will soon be converted into retail space, according to C. Bradley Mendelson of Cushman & Wakefield. Legendary tenant Howard Johnson’s sold its bite of the apple to Wharton Acquisitions (which is represented by Cushman & Wakefield), owners of such retail hotspots along Fifth Avenue as Hugo Boss, American Girl Place and Abercrombie & Fitch. WWD also noted in July 2004 that East 57th Street, located in Midtown Manhattan, was the most expensive retail street in the U.S.
- West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FLA.
One store for every 1,098 people
The combination of well-to-do communities and the seasonal factor (influx of people young and old from the north during the winter), give this southern Florida locale an edge in the retailing industry. “Stores will do enough business just in that seasonal time to more than make up for the summer when they’re not as busy,” noted Hollander. “Stores put their businesses there because they know they can afford it.”