The number of vacant retail stores in north and central Jersey went down last summer, according to a new survey by the Paramus-based Goldstein Group. They say it shows that so-called "bricks and mortar" retailing is not dead.

Goldstein Group President Chuck Lanyard says store vacancy rates declined 1 percent last summer. Of the 102.8-million square feet of retail space along highways, their report found 6.8 million square feet of empty space.

The Goldstein report did not include mall store vacancies. According to Lanyard, "it basically is not accessible. Mall owners have always dealt with their own retailers directly. They do not use the brokerage community; we do not have any involvement as far as placing tenants in the malls."

Although that 1 percent drop in retail store vacancies may not seem like much to the casual observer, Lanyard points out that "retail is going through an interesting metamorphosis."

The survey showed gym and exercise chains and urgent care operations are moving in, as well as new and different entertainment outlets.

"The stories about retail being dead are grossly exaggerated. It is just that retail is reinventing itself. We are seeing it in so many different ways."

And he says it is all happening rather quickly.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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