Dozens of shopping malls across the US are struggling to survive.
More than two dozen malls have shut down in the last four years and another 60 malls are on the brink of death, the New York Times reports, citing Green Street Advisors, a real estate and REIT analytics firm.
The firm predicted last year that about 15% of U.S. malls would fail or be converted into non-retail space within the next 10 years. That was an increase from two years earlier, when the firm said that 10% of malls would fail or be converted.
Retail consultant Howard Davidowitz expects as many as half of America’s 1,200 shopping malls to fail within 15 to 20 years. He predicts that only upscale shopping centres with anchors like Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus will survive.
“Middle-level malls are disappearing,” said Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, Inc., a national retail consulting and investment banking firm. “Developers are trying to do all kinds of things to save them, but at the end of the day, half of them are going to close.”
Even some luxury shopping centres are hurting. The formerly upscale White Flint Mall, for example, is nearing demolition. The 874,000-square-foot shopping center is located in the affluent suburbs of Washington, D.C. and once housed high-end department stores such as Bloomingdales, I. Magnin and Lord & Taylor.
Many malls are suffering because of recent widespread store closures among major department stores, such as Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s. Once anchor stores close, it can be difficult for mall owners to find a tenant to replace them.
That puts pressure on other mall-based retailers such as Radio Shack, Abercrombie & Fitch, Aeropostale and Delia’s.
Radio Shack wants to close a quarter of its 4,000 stores and Aeropstale has announced plans to close 240 of its locations. Abercrombie has closed 180 stores since 2009 and Delia’s is closing all 92 of its stores as part of its liquidation.
“These middle-level malls are dragging everybody down,” Davidowitz says.
A mall’s health is measured by its vacancy rate, or how much retail space it has unused.
Of the 1,200 shopping malls in the US, 80% are considered healthy with vacancy rates of 10% or less, according to the Times report, which cited data from CoStar Group. That’s down from 94% in 2006.
Nearly 15% of malls have vacancy rates of 10% to 40%, according to the data. The malls in the most trouble are the 3.6% that have vacancy rates of more than 40%.
“The big question is, how many malls are there going to be in five years?” Bradley Snyder, executive managing director for Boston advisory firm Tiger Capital Group told Bloomberg. “It’s certainly a concern for landlords, with the entire sector being impacted.”
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