Tourists Insulate Grand Strand from Retail Woes


Tourists insulate Grand Strand from retail woes

March 13, 2008

By Jessica Foster –

Retailers for the most part are flocking to the Grand Strand rather than shying away.

Many area malls are expanding and renovating, and new shopping centers are cropping up, such as The Market Common retail and housing development on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

The wealth of permanent and seasonal shoppers have somewhat sheltered the area from the struggles retailers elsewhere are facing, said Coastal Carolina University research economist Don Schunk.

“We have a very unusual retail environment. Our area is one that’s growing very quickly in terms of the permanent population, but we also have all the tourists that show up every year, too,” Schunk said.

The number of retail stores in Horry County increased from 1,554 in 2001 to 1,684 in 2006, the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In Georgetown County, the number of stores grew from 339 to 381.

A few examples of recent and upcoming additions:

· Coastal Grand Myrtle Beach mall has no vacant spaces, said marketing director Deb Bramlett.

· Its most recent additions include a Vitamin Shoppe, a J.C. Penney and an Ulta store .

· Myrtle Beach Mall, formerly Colonial Mall-Myrtle Beach, has a handful of unleased spaces.

· It recently opened Gift Addict, Hibbett Sports and LightSpa stores.

· The Barefoot Commons shopping center recently debuted in North Myrtle Beach and houses a Super Bi-Lo, home decor store Ivy Creek and other retail shops, restaurants and specialty stores.

· The Market Common is scheduled to open April 3 and will combine housing with about 40 national and local retail stores and restaurants.

· Two new Wal-Marts also are in the works, and Burroughs & Chapin Co. Inc. has plans to open retail centers anchored by Lowes Foods grocery stores.

Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said he doesn’t expect sluggish consumer spending to deter local retail expansion plans.

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