A Look at the Market Common Four Months After It Opened

By Lisa Fleisher and Jessica Foster – The Sun News

Head out to The Market Common and on many evenings, you’ll find cars lining the main thoroughfares, movie-goers ambling to and from Grand 14 Cinema and a handful of renters watching passers-by from their balconies above the stores.

Traffic at the urban village – which combines housing with shops and restaurants – has steadily grown since its April opening as tourists flood the beach and local residents discover the complex tucked away on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

The project’s managers say the economic lull has somewhat slowed progress at The Market Common as consumers clamp down on spending and shorten their vacations. Still, their outlook is bright considering that 90 percent of the store space is leased, residents continue moving into housing next door and plans are in the works for more signs on main highways.

It’s a difficult retail environment to launch such a project, said Coastal Carolina University research economist Don Schunk.

Across the country, retail chains are declaring bankruptcy or closing stores, and shopping centers are hard pressed to draw tenants. U.S. retail chains reported an uptick in sales in July – but that was a reflection largely of shoppers buying necessities at discount stores, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers.

“Clearly, 2008 was one of the toughest years you could have to open something like Market Common, and that covers everything,” Schunk said. “You could go back to the early ’90s before you could find a year that was as challenging a year to open Market Common.”

Sue Bonin, general manager of The Market Common, declined to give specific sales or traffic numbers. She said she couldn’t say whether the project was meeting expectations because developers are using this year as a base year, she said.



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