U.S. retailers are ramping up store expansion plans on the strength of a rebound in consumer spending, according to ChainLinks Retail Advisors, a retail real estate advisory services firm serving retailers, landlords, and investors in North America.

The firm’s recently published National Retailer and Restaurant Expansion Guide reports retailer demand for real estate up across the board.
“As 2010 came to a close, growth plans were up 30% from the levels we recorded last year,” said ChainLinks Research Director, Garrick Brown. “Following the strong performance during this year’s holiday sales season, many chains further upped their growth plans. Right now, expansion plans are up 40% over last year’s levels.”

According to the report, some of the most active retailers currently include 7-Eleven, Aldi, Apple, Bottom Dollar Food, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, HHGregg, Save-A-Lot and Walmart among others.

“Nearly every region in the United States is experiencing an increase,” Brown explains. “The strongest surge in growth plans has been in those markets where unemployment is lowest. The greater Washington DC area remains highly desirable, as does the Eastern Seaboard from Boston to the Carolinas. We have also seen a considerable increase in retailer requirements in the Chicago market and Texas. Though both have elevated unemployment, both Florida and California have also seen a spike in retailer demand in most markets.”

“Ultimately,” Brown concludes, “the current surge demonstrates to us two key factors; the return of optimism within the retail sector, and the desire to expand quickly now-while rents are still low.”