Why is the Oklahoma City retail market not as vibrant as it seems like it should be? Unemployment is under 4 percent, energy prices have rebounded nicely in the last year; City and State sales tax collections are up significantly; new business relocations and expansions are up. Add to this the positive effect of the national tax cuts and reduced regulation and you would expect a stronger retail market.
But, our survey numbers show increased vacancy in the first half of the year, 10.7 percent from 9.8 at year-end. Retail development of any significance has slowed. Local retailers, in particular, are being hesitant about expansion and adding stores. The pressures of change within retail, in general, are part of the answer, but we see a couple of local influences dampening the market.