Retail demands of new growth

Future residential growth downtown will be sufficient to support a 15,000-square-foot grocery store, in addition to a dozen or so new limited service and fast-food eateries.

New growth downtown is expected to increase consumer demand for goods and services by 13 percent, or $58.4 million annually, according to results of the Rahway Survey. There are as many as 1,279 residential units and 238,000 square feet of retail space either proposed, planned or in development. The survey, however, was compiled last year, before the downturn in the housing market and changes and delays to other projects.

New growth will be sufficient to generate $6 million in demand for grocery and a few more restaurants in addition to the 18 that could be supported now. There would be enough demand to support a women’s clothing store, although “other market pressures may limited the opportunity for sustainable success.”

There would not be enough growth to alter the current situation for a bookstore, furniture store, or men’s clothing store. These categories are already substantially oversupplied within the area and it’s unlikely that additional consumer demand alone would be sufficient to sustain these categories.

Consultants who compiled the Rahway Survey recommended creating a browsing atmosphere within the downtown retail corridors by recruiting an appropriate mix of retail stores, but also continuing to improve streetscapes and provide traffic-calming measures. Visitors should be directed through the use of prominent way-finding signs. There’s also support for an active marketing effort to recruit new retail stores and restaurants downtown.

Previous Rahway Survey posts:
Three distinct retail districts downtown
Enough demand for 18 restaurants
Retail supply and demand
Restaurants would draw us downtown (among other things)
Rahway Survey results are in