If you want to know what kinds of retailers will be moving into and expanding in Atlanta and the Southeast in the coming years, spend a weekend at one of the many state parks throughout the Southeast. You are sure to get a sense of the growing interest in being outdoors from the campers, hikers and cyclists enjoying the fresh air.
Likewise, visit one of the many farmer's markets or local health-food stores that continue to pop up, and you'll get a taste of the growing hunger for nutritious, local food.
As Americans continue to become more health and environmentally conscious, retailers like outdoor-supply stores and health-food grocers see tantalizing opportunities for growth. The popularity of retail concepts that promote an active lifestyle and healthy eating is not just a trend, but instead reflects a fundamental, long-term shift in the way people are living. Many retailers in the health arena consider the Southeast to be a key market for future expansion due in part to the great weather that is conducive to the increasingly active lifestyles of the people who live there. Add in a growing population of young and highly educated people, and you have a winning combination for health-focused retailers looking to expand their store concepts.
In a move to take advantage of this shift in lifestyles, Cabela's Inc., the world's foremost outfitter® of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, recently announced that it would build its first two locations in Georgia – a 100,000-square-foot store in Acworth and a 42,000-square-foot store in Augusta. The Acworth location is scheduled to begin construction this fall, with completion slated for fall 2014. Construction of the Augusta store will begin this summer, and the site is scheduled to open in the spring of 2014.
Road Runner Sports and Title Club Boxing are a few examples of exercise-focused retailers looking to enter or expand in Atlanta and the Southeast, as well. Health-conscious grocery stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts Farmers Market and Earth Fare are also actively pursuing new locations in the region.
According to the consultancy firm Kantar Retail, four of the 10 fastest-growing retailers are in the health or outdoors genre: Sprouts Farmers Market (No. 3), lululemon athletica (No. 4), Under Armor (No. 6) and The Fresh Market (No. 10) all made the cut.
Looking ahead, the Southeast will remain at the top of the list for the expansion plans of health- and outdoor–focused retailers. The fundamental shifts in the market and favorable growth conditions are a perfect match for these kinds of tenants. Expect more niche retailers to establish roots throughout the Southeast's affluent suburban areas, including Atlanta; Nashville, Tenn.; Huntsville, Ala.; and Greenville, S.C.
— Emil Gullia is a senior director at Franklin Street, based in the firm's Atlanta office. He can be reached at