Mall Vacancies Reach 10-Year High

Declining retail sales have increased the rate of vacancies at shopping malls to a 10-year high. Meanwhile, the asking rent for stores has dropped. Experts predict both trends will continue until sales recover and the recession nears its end.

Bloomberg: Vacancies at U.S. malls and shopping centres approached 10-year highs in the fourth quarter, and are set to rise further as declining retail sales put more stores out of business, research firm Reis Inc. said.

Regional mall vacancies rose to 7.1 per cent last quarter from 6.6 per cent in the third quarter. It was the highest vacancy rate since Reis began tracking regional malls in 2000, as well as the largest quarter-to-quarter jump in vacancies, according to New York-based Reis.

More than a dozen retailers, including Circuit City Stores Inc., Linens ‘n Things Inc. and Sharper Image Corp., filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008 as the credit squeeze and recession drained sales. Vacancies will rise further until the job market recovers, housing prices stabilise and lending resumes, restoring consumer confidence, said Reis

Retailers will close 12,000 stores in 2009, after the worst holiday sales in 40 years, according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of retail consulting and investment-banking firm Davidowitz & Associates Inc. in New York.

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