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Luxury Retailers Double Down on US Real Estate

Brands like Chanel and Gucci are expanding their US retail presence, capitalizing on affluent consumers’ preference for in-store shopping amid post-pandemic sales surge.

Luxury Retailers Double Down on US Real Estate

Brands like Chanel and Gucci are expanding their US retail presence, capitalizing on affluent consumers' preference for in-store shopping amid post-pandemic sales surge.

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Good morning. Luxury retailers are doubling down on US real estate. The Midwest is the leading region for US apartment rent growth—but the reason may surprise you. Meanwhile, global asset management giant KKR completed the sale of over 50 industrial properties for $560M.

Today’s issue is brought to you by MHCI Group.

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Market Snapshot

S&P 500
GSPC
4,229.45
Pct Chg:
-1.4%
FTSE NAREIT
FNER
638.73
Pct Chg:
-1.8%
10Y Treasury
TNX
4.795%
Pct Chg:
2.4%
SOFR
1-month
5.32%
Pct Chg:
0.2%

*Data as of 10/03/2023 market close.

BRICK-AND-MORTAR

Luxury Retailers Double Down on US Real Estate

Gucci, Chanel and Other Luxury Retailers Splurge on American Real Estate

Strong sales since the worst of the pandemic convinced high-end retailers of the importance of brick-and-mortar locations.

Luxury retailers like Chanel and Gucci are aggressively expanding their US real estate footprint, emphasizing in-person shopping due to robust post-pandemic sales and wealthy consumers' preference for physical stores.

Uptick in retail leases: Over the past year, luxury retailers have leased 650,000 square feet of new space in the U.S., a considerable increase from the 250,000 square feet leased in the previous year. This expansion has been motivated by a swift rebound in retail real estate following pandemic lows and a surge in in-store shopping. Despite challenges like high inflation and rising interest rates, the sector has witnessed a projected retail sales increase to $75.68B this year.

Embracing the brick: While many national retail brands, including Barnes & Noble and Macy’s, have reduced their physical footprints, opting to partially showcase their collections in-store and sell extensively online, luxury brands have adhered to a distinct path. Affluent customers, often reluctant to purchase high-value items without an in-person experience, have underscored the importance of maintaining and expanding physical retail spaces in the luxury segment.

Zoom in: To continue drawing customers and maintain growth, luxury retailers are enhancing in-store experiences by integrating hospitality features like cafes and bars and hosting elaborate events. They are expanding not only in size – with new spaces averaging 5,000 square feet or larger – but also in the range of collections displayed, which now span various categories, including cosmetics and children’s clothing.

➥ THE TAKEAWAY

Lap of luxury: Historically, luxury retailers concentrated in renowned high-street locations like Rodeo Drive and Michigan Avenue. However, there's a new shift: luxury brands are venturing into booming cities and regions such as Austin, Nashville, and Florida. These regions have seen population surges, indicating potential luxury clientele. Furthermore, these luxury brands have maintained resilience against declining tourists and office workers in certain cities during the pandemic, highlighting their ability to cater to a niche, affluent market segment.

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Why the shift? With escalating living expenses and a widening wealth gap, many Americans find themselves spending over half their income on rent. Expanding the housing supply in high-wage areas is paramount. However, traditional affordable housing development and multifamily investments often require a more rapid and cost-effective solution.

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AMERICAN HEARTLAND

US Midwest Tops Nation For Apartment Rent Growth

For the first time, the US Midwest is leading the nation in apartment rent growth. But rather than being driven by price hikes, Midwestern rent growth is primarily attributed to rent reductions in other parts of the country.

Midwest region holds a notable lead in apartment rent growth performance

Heart of it all: Effective asking rents in the Heartland rose 3.1% in the year ending August 2023 with YoY net inventory growth of 1.4%. While impressive, the strong performance is less about big price increases in the Midwest and more about rent cuts and new supply volumes in the rest of the nation. While Midwest rent growth is slightly below the region's decade average, it still surpasses the trends seen in the other areas experiencing annual rent decreases.

Next in line: The East Coast follows the Midwest in apartment performance, with a 2.5% growth in effective asking rents and a 1.2% YoY net inventory growth. While East Coast rent growth is somewhat slower than in the Midwest, it's still noteworthy, primarily due to a spike in completed apartments.

Regional challenges: Many other regions nationwide face challenges as new apartment deliveries negatively impact pricing power. In the Carolinas, Mountains/Desert, Florida, Southeast, Texas, and the West Coast, YoY effective asking rent changes are negative. New property deliveries are putting pressure on rental prices in regions outside the Midwest and East Coast.

➥ THE TAKEAWAY

Flexible future: While the Midwest and East Coast stand out as leaders in US apartment growth, their success has more to do with what's happening in other parts of the country. Both the Midwest and East Coast are benefiting from slower YoY inventory growth. Meanwhile, other regions grapple with steep rent cuts and higher net inventory growth. As the industry adapts to market shifts, owners and investors must stay agile to capitalize on opportunities.

AROUND THE WEB

📖 Read: The US Energy Dept. may provide a record $1B loan to Lithium Americas Corp. (LAC) for the Thacker Pass lithium mine in Nevada, a move aimed at boosting domestic critical mineral supplies.

🎧 Listen: On this episode of The Real Deal’s Deconstruct, Arkhouse, a PE firm specializing in privatizing public REITs, talks about why they think the public markets undervalue real estate.

DEAL OF THE DAY

KKR's $560M Deal Underscores Strength of U.S. Industrial Real Estate

Global investment firm KKR has made a significant investment in the U.S. industrial real estate sector, acquiring over 5 million square feet of industrial warehouse and distribution properties, and completing a $560M deal that highlights the strength of the industrial market segment.

Deal details: The sale encompasses more than 50 industrial buildings, primarily from KKR's Real Estate Partners Americas II fund, scattered across fast-growing infill markets in cities like Atlanta, Chicago, and Dallas-Fort Worth. This deal was executed through five separate transactions, closing its final sale on September 29th.

Between the lines: Industrial real estate makes up KKR’s largest exposure across its U.S. opportunistic and core-plus real estate funds. According to Roger Morales, KKR's Head of Real Estate Acquisitions in the Americas, the recent transactions underscore the appealing market demand for quality properties in areas with limited supply.

Industrial outlook: Anticipating a pronounced dip in new industrial supply for 2024 and 2025, and with only 204.3 million square feet of industrial space initiated in 2023 (a stark decline from preceding years), industry experts are projecting a short-term slowdown in delivery. However, juxtaposed against these challenges is a positive long-term outlook buoyed by consistent demand drivers such as e-commerce and sustained growth in logistics.

➥ THE TAKEAWAY

Market resilience: Industry experts view KKR's transaction as a positive sign, indicating potential increased liquidity in commercial real estate. Given the anticipated deceleration in construction starts influenced by the Federal Reserve's rate adjustments, should demand stabilize to median levels, the horizon looks promising for the industrial real estate sector.

✍️ DAILY PICKS

  • Dallas default: Pillarstone Capital REIT (PRLE), owner of a 253 KSF Uptown Dallas office building with a $16.45M loan nearing maturity, is in financial trouble.

  • Office exodus: Despite efforts from major companies to enforce return-to-office policies, office attendance in big cities remains at barely half of pre-pandemic levels.

  • State of the market: Terrydale Capital provides its CRE Financing State of the Market with a compilation of financing rates from various regions across the country.

  • Rich renters: Florida's apartment demand is on the rise, driven by a surge in high-paying jobs, with an average annual renter income of $123,400, significantly above the national average of $97,400.

  • Watchlisted: SL Green Realty (SLG) and RXR's $940M loan for the Worldwide Plaza complex in Midtown Manhattan faces potential default risks as major tenants plan to leave.

  • Same, but different: Despite changing market conditions and rising cap rates, self-storage deals are still getting done. They just look a bit different nowadays.

  • Lackluster leasing: Q3 Manhattan office leasing fell 30% despite some big leases, particularly in the legal and financial services sectors.

  • Rise and fall: Brad Sumrok, a prominent mentor in multifamily investing, faces scrutiny as some of his students' deals unravel, leaving questions about his teaching methods.

  • Texas takeover: Japanese housing conglomerate Sumitomo Forestry is set to purchase the largest North Texas apartment builder, JPI, for a reported $215M.

  • Nosedive: WeWork (WE) has chosen to skip interest payments of approximately $95M, causing its stock to plummet by 24%, as the co-working company seeks to stave off bankruptcy.

📈 CHART OF THE DAY

Apartment demand is normalizing in 2023 following volatile 2020 to 2022

Apartment demand is finally starting to normalize. Q3 net leasing activity closely aligns with the long-term seasonal average but still falls short of meeting the supply. With new apartment completions reaching the highest levels since the 1980s, this serves as a valuable reminder that the current challenges in multifamily are unrelated to the underlying demand factors. Instead, they stem from a 50-year peak in apartment construction, higher cost pressures, and a sudden surge in interest rates, which has disrupted financing.

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