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Atlanta economy booming; retail rents rise

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Atlanta absorbed over 1 million square feet in 2019, continuing a period of growth that has lasted a decade.

Driving Factors

The Atlanta economy is enjoying a record-low period of unemployment and solid job growth, but perhaps most importantly for retailers, consumers are still spending money.

While vacancies in shopping malls across the United States have hit their highest level in the past 20 years, earnings remain strong from prominent big-box retailers such as Walmart, Target and Home Depot.

Brands and malls alike are adapting to the changing expectations of the consumer: Brands are showing how combining an easy shopping experience with better technology and in-store pickup can increase sales, while mall owners are adapting by adding more entertainment and mixed-use options. 

Key Takeaways

  • Atlanta absorbed over 1 million square feet in 2019, continuing a period of growth that has lasted a decade.
  • Vacancy remains at its lowest point in 11 years at 6.6%.
  • Rental rates continue to rise, increasing 8.2% since the end of 2018.
  • Metro Atlanta's jobless rate sits at 2.7%, nearly an all-time low. In 2019, Atlanta added 66,700 jobs, the best year since 2016.


Atlanta economy booming; retail rents rise

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Related Experts

Tosh Wolfe

Senior Vice President, Principal


Tosh Wolfe is the Senior Vice President and Director of Retail Services  for Colliers International – Atlanta. Mr. Wolfe is focused on the strategic, operational and business development initiatives of the retail sector.  Under his guidance, the Atlanta Retail Services Group continues to set the standard for excellence in advisory service to owners, operators and tenants of Retail real estate assets. With an extensive background in leasing, asset management, development, acquisitions, dispositions, finance, and knowledge of retail, Mr. Wolfe enables his team to implement tailored solutions for all clients.   

Mr. Wolfe began his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers providing audit and consulting services to global companies.  After a successful career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr. Wolfe joined The Shopping Center Group as a Landlord Leasing Adviser, providing leasing and marketing services to his private and publicly traded clients.  Prior to joining Colliers, Tosh oversaw the regional leasing and asset management function at one of the largest Retail landlords headquartered in Georgia. 

Mr. Wolfe is active in ICSC, ULI, The Commercial Board of Realtors and the Georgia Society of CPAs.  He values community involvement and enjoys mentoring students and guest lecturing.

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Whitney Spangler

Senior Vice President


Whitney Spangler joined Colliers International in May 2013 with the focus on Landlord Representation and specializing in marketing strategies, trade area analysis, tenant merchandising, and deal making. Ms. Spangler has over a decade of experience in the real estate industry representing institutional and regional landlords with community centers and intown developments in metro Atlanta and the southeast.

Prior to joining Colliers International, Ms. Spangler was a leasing agent for Riverwood Properties, LLC and was responsible for leasing approximately 682,000± SF of unanchored leasing space and maintaining a 95% occupancy level throughout her term.

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