While the barrage of store closings grabs most headlines, a number of major retailers plan store openings this year as well.

A study of 250 major retail chains by commercial real estate information provider CoStar Group found they plan to open nearly 4,000 stores this year and close about 3,600, a number that is expected to increase as additional retailers fall victim to the economy through closings and liquidations.

The company cautions that if an economic recovery remains elusive, merchants will adjust their store-openings downward by mid-year, as they have for the past two years.

If all 4,000 stores are opened, store-opening activity will still be down 39 percent compared to 2007 levels.

Not surprisingly, retailers in the pet supply, dollar store, warehouse club, drugstore, grocery store and big-box discount categories are projecting the biggest gain in stores this year while retailers in the electronics, discount department, jewelry, apparel and office-supply categories expect to see the biggest loss in store counts.

Those planning to open the most U.S. stores this year include Walgreens (540), Dollar General (450), CVS (275), Gamestop (250), Dollar Tree (235), Family Dollar (200), Walmart Supercenter (125), Aldi (80), Target (75) and Tractor Supply Co. (75).

On the opposite end are merchants that have either folded or are downsizing considerably. They include Circuit City (567), Ritz Camera (400), Goody's (287), Steve & Barry's (252), Jones Apparel (225 for 2009 and 2010), Blockbuster (150), Office Depot (118), Rite Aid (117), Zales (115), Gap (100) and Charming Shoppes (100).

Last year, the major retailers in the study closed nearly 7,000 stores and opened about 5,700.

First seeds

Foxbank Plantation in Berkeley County will soon see its first retail development.

Foxbank Commercial Development LLC recently sold a 1.75-acre outparcel at Foxbank Towne Center to Adwil Venture I LLC for the development of a CVS pharmacy store.

The parcel is at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 52 and Foxbank Plantation Boulevard in Foxbank Plantation, a community that will include 2,400 homes, a new elementary school and a retail center when it is built out.

The property lies within the newly annexed areas of Moncks Corner along U.S. 52 near Cypress Gardens Road.

Construction could begin this fall on the 12,000-square-foot pharmacy and store, said Hank Futch of Twin Rivers Capital, a Charleston-based real estate and development company. It is scheduled to open in 2010 and employ 20 to 25 workers.

CVS was founded in 1963 in Massachusetts and the initials stand for Consumer Value Store. Despite the economic slowdown, CVS expects to add about 275 new locations nationwide this year to its existing 6,300-plus drugstores, as noted in the previous item.

Chill out

Rita's Water Ice has opened a new shop in Ladson Crossing Shopping Center at U.S. Highway 78 and College Park Road in Ladson.

The 1,500-square-foot shop is owned and operated by Karl and Monica Wacker of Summerville. The Philadelphia-based frozen treat chain serves 35 different flavors of Italian ice as well as frozen custard and other items.

The shop has eight employees, offers a drive-through window and is open seven days a week.