While commercial real estate values in Maryland and around the country have largely recovered the losses inflicted by the 2008 financial crisis and ensuing recession, retail vacancy rates across the country remain worryingly high at about 16 percent. A growing economy and plummeting unemployment figures have fueled rabid demand for office and manufacturing space, but boarded-up retail stores are a common sight in many of the nation's 50,000 or so shopping malls.
Experts in the commercial real estate sector feel that this excess of capacity has been largely caused by the increasing popularity of online shopping. Consumer spending is driving the current economic recovery, but an increasingly large percentage of this spending is being done on the Internet. Shopping online allows consumers to forego clogged parking lots and long checkout lines and buy the items they want with just a few mouse clicks, and a failure to compete with this level of convenience has led once dominant retail institutions like Blockbuster Video and Borders Books to close their doors for good.