A survey of bricks-and-mortar retailers in the state by a real estate management firm found a lot of optimism about the new year. Many also say they not only co-exist with online retailing, they have incorporated it into their operations.

Matthew Harding of Levin Management Corporation in North Plainfield says 3 out of 4 Jersey retailers they talked to see continued business growth, and they do not fear online competition.

"Although e-commerce is strong and growing, it still represents 10 percent or maybe even a little less still, of overall retail sales," he said.

Harding says many based their optimism on their ability to include some form of e-commerce into their walk-in stores.

"Of the respondents that said that they have adapted their business in some way by using technology or using e-commerce, almost 60 percent said that they are feeling a positive impact on their business."

Harding also pointed out that other things such as apparel, while they are bought online, are still easier to buy at a store.

"A lot of the tenants in our properties are the tenants that, even though someone is buying online, they also visit every day."

Harding says they poll the managers in the stores and get the "grassroots" information from them.

Some other survey highlights:

  • 74.5 percent of respondents are optimistic about their anticipated 2017 performance.
  • 68.8 percent reported 2016 sales at the same or higher level than 2015.
  • 75.6 and 74.4 percent reported holiday seasonal sales and shopper traffic at the same or higher level than last year.

He says many of the retailers in their survey also want to hire, but find it harder for get qualified people.

"The market is more competitive, and therefore you are going to wind up paying a little bit more."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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