The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday June 3rd

Study: retail supply outweighs demand

CLARIFICATION: The business supply and demand study commissioned by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership applies only to businesses in downtown Chapel Hill.

Elizabeth Shipley is bringing her boutique full of affordable women’s clothing to Chapel Hill — and she hopes there’s room for her.

Shipley’s store — Bluetique Cheap Chic — will add to the growing number of clothing stores in Chapel Hill when it opens its doors later this month.

In 2013, there was a $1,183,860 overage — the amount by which supply exceeded demand — of clothing in downtown Chapel Hill, according to a study commissioned by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

In the past six months, at least four new women’s retail stores have opened in Chapel Hill, further contributing to that overage.

But Bobby Funk, assistant director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, said there is still room for women’s clothing stores to make their way to town.

Funk said he is especially excited about boutique stores like Bluetique opening in the downtown area.

“We encourage retailers like this to come to Franklin Street,” he said. “We think they are going to add another great, new shopping opportunity to our community.”

Funk did not comment about the town’s potential excess of clothing stores.

Vacancies in retail storefronts fell to below 10 percent in 2011 after peaking at 25 percent in 2007, according to a 2012 study commissioned by the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership.

Cheaper rent might contribute to the filling of storefronts — the average rent for a retail stores was hovering between $20 and $25 per square foot in 2011 after reaching $30 per square foot in 2008, according to the study.

Since it opened two years ago, Franklin Street boutique Bevello has faced increased competition.

But members of the store’s management said the store has carved out a niche market with year-round Chapel Hill residents.

“We’ve always been pretty busy even when students are gone,” said Caroline Reynolds, store manager of Bevello.

Shipley said she is not worried about what looks like a saturated women’s clothing market.

“I think there’s plenty of room for more clothing boutiques,” Shipley said.

Shipley said the clothing in her store is aimed at college students with dresses ranging in price from $15 to $60.99.

“We also gear towards younger women who are just now starting their careers.”

UNC senior Tyler Hood said she thinks there is room for another clothing shop in town, but she is not sure it will thrive on Franklin Street.

“I feel like the boutiques really have a market on Franklin Street and most colleges towns,” Hood said.

“It might succeed, but there’s a lot of turnover on Franklin.”

Shipley said she is looking forward to the boutique’s opening.

“It’s always fun opening a new location and seeing the excitement of the customers and just really getting to be involved in another college campus,” she said. “We just can’t wait to get there.”

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