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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on retail. But these brands are planning expansions in St. Louis

"No matter when they open, these companies are going to want to grow"
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — There's countless stories detailing the decline of retail due to the coronavirus. This isn't one of them.

St. Louis-area brokers from commercial real estate firms Pace Properties, Location CRE and L3 Corp. say dozens of their retail clients are in the midst of expansion, either actively looking for more locations or signing letters of intent or leases, despite the uncertainties the pandemic has created.

Brokers say that while many shops and restaurants may be closed today, they're working on deals now to meet the needs in 2021 and 2022.

"They don't know how they'll open but they will open," said Pat Willett, senior vice president of brokerage services for Pace Properties.

The businesses in growth mode locally include:

  • P'sghetti's Pasta & Sandwiches, a local Italian fast-casual concept that's poised to add a store in Ballwin. It already has locations in South County and Valley Park
  • Hot Box Cookies, a St. Louis-based cookie concept that already operates three St. Louis-area stories as well as locations in Columbia, Missouri, and Lawrence, Kansas
  • National fast-casual chains Chipotle, Panda Express, MOD Pizza and Tropical Smoothie Cafe
  • National grocers and retailers Costco, Aldi, TJX brands and Five Below, which will open a new location in St. Charles County
  • Health care and services brands like Pacific Dental, Total Access Urgent Care, The Joint, Planet Fitness, Big Blue Swim School and Take 5 Oil Change.

"No matter when they open, these companies are going to want to grow," Location CRE Principal Ian Silberman said.

Nationwide, retail and food services sales fell 8.7% month over month in March and 6.7% compared to last year, according to the latest available data from the U.S. Census Bureau. (E-commerce sales, which are released quarterly, for 2020 won't be released until May 19.)

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