More retailers are opening their first locations in Utah

More retailers are opening their first locations in Utah

Utah still doesn’t have a Neiman Marcus. Or a Saks Fifth Avenue. And there is no Cheesecake Factory or Crate & Barrel.

But more and more retailers are opening their first locations in Utah, narrowing to a small list the number of popular retailers that aren’t here yet. Although there are no consistent population or demographic thresholds that retailers consider when deciding to come into a market, Utah’s comparatively vibrant economy, strong job growth and rising population are key factors in the state’s attraction.

Popular discount-oriented apparel retailer Steve & Barry’s is the latest to announce it is moving into Utah, with a 42,000-square-foot store at 5600 S. Van Winkle Expressway in Murray set to open in August. The company, which has 199 stores in 33 states, is popular with bargain hunters because each piece of merchandise in its stores sells for less than $20.

In fact, commercial real estate brokerage Sperry Van Ness recently named the Salt Lake City area as one of the Top 10 retail markets to watch in 2007. Other metropolitan areas on its hot list are Albuquerque, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tucson.

The company pointed to Salt Lake City’s strong population growth as one factor that has generated interest among retailers, which is pushing commercial vacancies down and rents ever higher.

Whole Foods, which after years of review finally committed in 2006 to come to Utah, plans to soon start construction on a 53,250-square-foot store in Trolley Square near downtown Salt Lake City with a projected opening set to open in 2009.

The LDS church, which is tearing down the Crossroads and ZCMI malls on Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City, plans an estimated $1 billion redevelopment to create City Creek Center, which will open in 2011. It will feature new Macy’s and Nordstrom stores, along with space for newcomer Dillard’s (which is in the market at other malls) and other retail.

Against this backdrop, most of retailing’s big-box stores continue their expansion as strong and constant population growth, along with consistent appreciation in housing values has attracted the attention of the retail community nationally.

By Lesley Mitchell
The Salt Lake Tribune

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