Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Shopping Saturation

I’ve wondered for years just how much retail business Springfield could ultimately support before it became saturated and no longer able to absorb any more. New businesses, mostly operating out of new construction, have been proliferating exponentially, mainly on the city’s southwest side. Now there’s this:
A development that would match Parkway Pointe shopping center in size - including a Wal-Mart superstore - is one committee meeting and a city council vote away from turning dirt at the south edge of Springfield.

Just how quickly that could happen remains a matter of speculation.

Ordinances approving the project at Sixth Street and Hazel Dell Road are on the agenda for a Thursday meeting of the Springfield City Council's public works committee.
I have nothing against any of this. And I’m sure the developers and retailers have studied the situation and feel confident that the new project can be successful. I still wonder though, at what point do we reach saturation? By saturation I don’t mean no new businesses build or open. Rather, when do these new businesses begin seriously displacing existing operations?

When White Oaks Mall opened in 1977 and the southwest side retail boom began, it wiped out downtown, a situation that lasted for years and years. Fortunately, downtown has found its niche and come back in a great way. But the retail expansion seems to be greater now than it was (even proportionately) back in the late ‘70s to mid ‘80s. Yet I don’t see mass extinctions of existing businesses. Some stores have closed, yes, but nothing on a large scale.

Again, I’m fine with that outcome; I just wonder if there ever will be a mini collapse of retailers here at some point due to overexpansion.

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