New Hampshire has long had a healthy economy, and it appears to have weathered the pandemic well.
“Based on our discussions with retailers, people seem to be coming back into the stores,” said James Prieto, director of real estate at Granite Commercial Real Estate. “There is a high percentage of the population in southern New Hampshire that has been vaccinated, and customers want to get back into retail stores. We are seeing in-store retail sales increase, and that goes for drug stores, grocery stores, restaurants — all of the retailers we are talking with say customers are coming back in person.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of July 9, 57.1% of the total population in the state had been vaccinated, including 67.1% of people aged 18 years old and older.
The state’s unemployment rate has been among the lowest in the nation, and came in at 2.9% in June, third best among any state and well below the 5.9% for the nation as a whole.
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In June, the New Hampshire was one of roughly 20 that ended the extra $300 per week in unemployment benefits that the federal government had been supporting throughout the pandemic as part of an effort to help minimize its economic impact.
“New Hampshire’s economy is roaring back to life with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the history of the Granite State,” said Gov. Chris Sununu in a statement. “Such low unemployment rates are no accident, but are the result of a continued effort to provide businesses with the flexibility needed to grow while providing individuals with the incentives and resources needed to return to work. New Hampshire’s economy is well positioned to make further economic gains throughout the year that will serve to benefit communities and families across the Granite State.”
Prieto, whose firm has long represented Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford, a chain owned by Ahold Delhaize USA, said supermarket operators have been much more active in New Hampshire than drug stores, a scenario that has been unfolding in many states.
Two of the most aggressive supermarket chains expanding in the state — DeMoula’s Market Basket, based in Tewksbury, Mass., and Whole Foods Market, based in Austin, Texas — do not have pharmacies, instead specializing in high volumes of commodity foods at low prices and high volumes of organic and natural foods at high prices, respectively.
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Prieto said Amazon Fresh has been rumored to be scouting sites in Nashua. “That would probably be the most innovative and exciting net concept we have had for a long time,” he said.
Other than Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS Health adding its HealthHUB format to existing stores in the state and relocating a handful of others, “things have been pretty stagnant in the drug store space,” Prieto said.
Despite undergoing some consolidation recently, the segment has maintained the status quo.
“The drug stores have just been working with the stores they already have,” Prieto said.