The Best Cities to Buy Retail Property in 2024

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A series of challenges and shifts, such as rising interest rates and declining sales have characterized the retail commercial real estate market over the past year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there has been an unprecedented surge in delivered units, increasing the amount of available space in many markets. 

However, despite the challenges, there are still opportunities for investors in retail real estate. For tenants looking to lease, the increased availability of retail space could mean more options and better lease terms.

If you’re looking to lease shop space or invest in retail development in any of these markets, now is the time to start scouting properties and making offers – before the competition comes rushing in.   

10 Top Cities for Investing in Retail Property in 2024

Here are the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest percentage of buy and hold recommendations for retail, according to Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2024 by the Urban Land Institute and PwC.*

Commercial real estate statistics are from Crexi Intelligence as of November 2023. By leveraging Crexi, users can instantly analyze retail market trends and review retail properties for sale or lease. The detailed database of sales comparables, retail industry reports, in-depth analytics, and demographic data enables instant evaluation in today’s continually evolving retail market landscape.

1. West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach, located on Florida’s southeastern coast, is experiencing a consumer spending surge due to increased employment and population growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, total nonfarm employment in the region rose significantly over the past year. 

Additionally, a wave of finance firms relocating to the area has stabilized the job market, as reported by Capital Analytics Associates. These trends, coupled with West Palm Beach’s desirable location and lifestyle, are driving robust consumer spending in the city and the demand for retail space.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $35/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 80
  • Median SqFt: 2,865
  • Days on market: 226

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $2.3 million
  • Price/SqFt: $455
  • Asking cap rate: 5.2%
  • Total listings: 29
  • Days on market: 220

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price : $1.28 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $369
  • Sold cap rate: 4.5%
  • Total sales volume: $138 million
  • Days on market: 227

2. Chattanooga

Chattanooga is nestled along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. According to the Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce, the market ranks among the best for retail investment due to an expanding job market, with sectors such as manufacturing and healthcare leading the way. 

Home to 267,000 residents, the market boasts an unemployment rate of 3.3% (BLS September 2023) and a workforce of 218,000 employees.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $20/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 239
  • Median SqFt: 2,539
  • Days on market: 152

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $1.31 million
  • Price/SqFt: $251
  • Asking cap rate: 6.0%
  • Total listings: 71
  • Days on market: 121

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $700,000
  • Sold price /SqFt: $162
  • Sold cap rate: 7.3%
  • Total sales volume: $124 million
  • Days on market: 90
Downtown Nashville Sunset

3. Nashville

Nashville, the vibrant capital of Tennessee, is seeing a rise in consumer spending driven by a robust job market and steady population growth, with household incomes growing by 5% yearly. The city’s diverse economy, with sectors such as healthcare and music recording flourishing, has contributed to a low unemployment rate, according to the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $30/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 257
  • Median SqFt: 2,581
  • Days on market: 271

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $2.27 million
  • Price/SqFt: $409
  • Asking cap rate: 5.3%
  • Total listings: 48
  • Days on market: 200

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $1.52 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $329
  • Sold cap rate: 4.9%
  • Total sales volume: $411 million
  • Days on market: 102
Broad Street Panorama in Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

4. Charleston

Charleston, SC, known for its rich history and well-preserved architecture, is experiencing a boost in consumer spending, influenced by a thriving job market and significant population growth. 

The city’s population has grown by 3% over the past year, with an impressively low unemployment rate of 2.2%, one of the strongest in our list of the top retail markets. Household incomes have also seen a remarkable increase, reaching a median of $84,600 with a growth rate of 16% over the same period.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $35/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 170
  • Median SqFt: 2,355
  • Days on market: 162

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $1.75 million
  • Price/SqFt: $419
  • Asking cap rate: 5.2%
  • Total listings: 44
  • Days on market: 149

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $1.23 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $379
  • Sold cap rate: 5.6%
  • Total sales volume: $57.8 million
  • Days on market: 210
Memphis, Tennessee, USA aerial skyline view with downtown and Mud Island.

5. Memphis

Memphis, famously known as the birthplace of blues music and home to iconic landmarks like Graceland, is demonstrating resilience in its retail market. For instance, The Walk, a mixed-use development featuring more than 100,000 square feet of retail space, is set to break ground in downtown Memphis, as mentioned in a news article by REBusinessOnline.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $11/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 608
  • Median SqFt: 2,756
  • Days on market: 294

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $1.15 million
  • Price/SqFt: $178
  • Asking cap rate: 6.5%
  • Total listings: 103
  • Days on market: 149

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $379,000
  • Sold price /SqFt: $92
  • Sold cap rate: 6.0%
  • Total sales volume: $348 million
  • Days on market: 134
River walk in San Antonio city downtown skyline cityscape of Texas USA at sunset

6. San Antonio

San Antonio, the charming city known for its rich colonial heritage, is a dynamic and vibrant commercial hub. It’s the second-most populous city in Texas, boasting a diversified economy with robust healthcare, military, and tourism sectors. 

The growing economy, combined with the city’s cultural appeal, continues to attract residents and businesses, boosting consumer spending and demand for retail space.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $20/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 1,075
  • Median SqFt: 2,327
  • Days on market: 250

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $1.2 million
  • Price/SqFt: $217
  • Asking cap rate: 6.0%
  • Total listings: 220
  • Days on market: 150

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $1.65 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $285
  • Sold cap rate: 5.5%
  • Total sales volume: $31.4 million
  • Days on market: 121
Aerial of Auston Texas from the Congress Avenue Bridge next to the Statesmans Bat Observation Center.

7. Austin

Austin is the vibrant capital of Texas, reporting a remarkable increase in median household income of 14% over the past year. The city’s thriving economy and steady population growth have created a buzzing environment for the retail sector. 

According to a recent report from the Houston Chronicle, Austin’s strong homebuilding prospects and its status as a ‘talent magnet’ have contributed to the area’s appeal, signaling promising opportunities for retailers and commercial real estate investment.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $29/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 666
  • Median SqFt: 2,269
  • Days on market: 223

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $3.46 million
  • Price/SqFt: $593
  • Asking cap rate: 6.0%
  • Total listings: 68
  • Days on market: 152

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $937,000
  • Sold price /SqFt: $566
  • Sold cap rate: 5.5%
  • Total sales volume: $70.1 million
  • Days on market: 228
Las Vegas, Nevada, USA cityscape along the strip at twilight.

8. Las Vegas

Las Vegas offers an attractive mix of entertainment, dining, and shopping experiences that’s hard to beat. The city is the most populous in Nevada and ranks as the 25th-most populous in the United States. As a hub for technology and innovation, Las Vegas is open for business and brimming with opportunities. Vegas has seen a remarkable increase in median household incomes, soaring by 13% year over year.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $23/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 886
  • Median SqFt: 2,1045
  • Days on market: 271

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $4.12 million
  • Price/SqFt: $462
  • Asking cap rate: 5.6%
  • Total listings: 128
  • Days on market: 121

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $3.01 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $310
  • Sold cap rate: 6.3%
  • Total sales volume: $663 million
  • Days on market: 161
Houston, Texas, USA downtown city skyline and highway.

9. Houston

Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States, is experiencing a significant retail development boom. For example, NewQuest Properties is developing a $90 million retail center in Tomball, a growing suburb of Houston, as reported by The Real Deal

Over the past 12 months, shopping center listings have gone under contract in less than four months, with buyers benefiting from cap rates of 6.0%.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $21/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 2,494
  • Median SqFt: 2,215
  • Days on market: 223

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $1.89 million
  • Price/SqFt: $270
  • Asking cap rate: 6.2%
  • Total listings: 291
  • Days on market: 151

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $1.31 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $233
  • Sold cap rate: 6.0%
  • Total sales volume: $708 million
  • Days on market: 115

10. Miami

Miami is a bustling coastal metropolis that’s perfect for retail. With its vibrant culture, sandy beaches, and world-class hotels, the city attracts millions of visitors annually, making it an ideal location for retailers. It’s worth noting that Miami boasts an exceptionally low unemployment rate of just 1.5%, the lowest among the top 10 retail markets for 2024, along with the highest annual asking rent.

For Lease (active)

  • Asking rent (annual): $45/SF
  • Spaces available on Crexi: 627
  • Median SqFt: 2,300
  • Days on market: 211

For Sale (active)

  • Asking sale price (median): $2.99 million
  • Price/SqFt: $585
  • Asking cap rate: 5.2%
  • Total listings: 201
  • Days on market: 127

Sales Comps (past 12 months)

  • Median sales price: $1.77 million
  • Sold price /SqFt: $402
  • Sold cap rate: 5.8%
  • Total sales volume: $1.08 billion
  • Days on market: 160

*This report contains the views of almost 1,260 who completed surveys and about 600 individuals interviewed during the research process, including investors, fund managers, developers, property companies, lenders, brokers, and advisers.

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Shanti Ryle
Shanti Ryle

Content Marketing Manager

Shanti leads Crexi's content marketing strategies with 7+ years of content development experience, creating everything from blog posts to award-winning podcasts. Previously, she worked on content teams at Snapchat, Weedmaps, and HopSkipDrive as well as developed copy, articles, and media for freelance publications.

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