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Austin Retail Outlook During COVID: Q&A with Weitzman’s Matt Epple

Matt Epple, EVP and director of brokerage for Weitzman’s Austin office, discussed the metro’s current retail market 10 months into the pandemic.

Q. Where does occupancy stand?

A: Austin’s 51-million-square-foot retail market ended 2020 with 95% occupancy, considered healthy but a decline of 1% due to increased closings.

Q: What factors contributed to occupancy remaining healthy?

A: Take restaurants, one of the harder-hit categories. Even as some close, many are being backfilled by new concepts. Demand exists for larger vacancies as well. Additionally, metro Austin added only 402,000 square feet of new space last year.

Q: What is your take on market performance in 2021?

A: Austin will benefit from corporate moves, like Tesla’s new gigafactory and Oracle’s headquarters relocation. Metro Austin also reports robust residential construction. If the vaccines become widely distributed, we should see stronger retail in 2021 and a return to pre-pandemic performance by 2022.

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).

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