The Death of a Mall in Stages

Mish

300 Class B Malls in the US are dying a slow death.

How Malls Die 

Bloomberg discusses the Crystal Mall in Waterford Connecticut as an example of the fate of a Typical Class B Mall, Anywhere, USA.

All in all, as many as 25,000 stores could close in the U.S. this year, mostly in malls, according to Coresight. That would demolish the previous record of about 9,800 closures, set in 2019.

Between bankruptcies, distressed owners, store closures and existing vacancies, at least half of Crystal Mall’s square footage is now at risk. And hundreds of other B malls around the country are in the same boat.

Class B Mall Locations

B Malls

The lead image is a composite I created from an interactive Bloomberg graphic. 

Six retailers in the mall have filed for bankruptcy in the last three years.

Retailers such as Macys, the Christmas Tree Shops, etc., (black and white hatched) have not said they are leaving the Waterford mall, but they have announced closures.

With 35 vacant storefronts already, the mall appears doomed.

The same fate awaits hundreds of similar malls across the country. 

Mish

Comments (50)
No. 1-17
frozeninthenorth
frozeninthenorth

In the mid 1990s I was at a conference in Jupiter Beach, Florida, where the indication of the location of a restaurant that would have an open kitchen after 9 pm was 3 mall on the right, about 10 minutes away...What always surprises me has been the resilience of the mall over the past 30 years. There was always a surplus, bankruptcy is a way of life in North America (far more than elsewhere). Yet the over-abundance of malls persisted for 30 years.

njbr
njbr

When you have a seasonal tenant ("Christmas Tree Shop")?? as a major tenant, you know there is rot.

As far as I can tell, Macy's is the only real anchor in the mall shown.

Sechel
Sechel

Schumpeter's gale. How we conduct commerce is constantly changing

Eddie_T
Eddie_T

My guess is the malls here, or most of them, will weather the storm. As of July 2019, retail occupancy was reported to be 95.4%. COVID has hit retail hard, but I expect it to recover within a couple of years.

We've had two malls bite the dust over the last 20 years....one was already in trouble in the early 90's and it went down with changing demographics, as the burbs to the north and west of it exploded with growth, and a new mall was built at the NW traffic hub.

I miss the one that closed....my kids used to skate there when they were little....I never did much shopping at the new one.

The second mall that closed, on the near north side, had become a hangout for big groups of back teenagers who apparently never bought much..... Sales declined and theft went up until the stores shuttered one by one. The community college has now taken most of the space.

Both buildings have mostly been occupied since the malls folded , but not at the typical nosebleed mall rents, of course.

Two new malls have been built in the last decade or so. The new ones are not the giant all-indoor things of the past.....they're faux villages with wide sidewalks and awnings....

Austin was one of the last big cities to get H&M Stores....not sure if the five locations here are on the list, but H&M announced they're closing 350 stores and opening 100 new ones. I'd expect them to keep a presence here....but I don't think we need all of them.

I'd have to think hard to come up with any retail purchase I need to make that involves a mall at all....especially since Sears went down.

PecuniaNonOlet
PecuniaNonOlet

With 80 million boomers aging more and more each day, those malls should be converted to local medical clinics. Better yet, half medical training centers and half clinical care.

Alternative use, housing for boomers, they liked those malls anyway, let them live there.

Lots of possibilities. I dont think all malls will disappear, they are a great place to hang out and cool off during the long hot summers. The key problem was that malls never evolved. I was at a mall in singapore and they had an amazing projector/light show there.

Malls need:
Better entertainment - comedians, concerts, dancers, etc.
Better experiences - why has no virtual reality gaming been setup in these? Why not teach a class or two (photography, camping, etc) and compliment with guided shopping?
Better shopping experiences - have a reward system, the more you shop the more points you get for free access to items above.
Better food - food at malls is 99% fast food or diabetes buffet of sugar.
Beyond shopping - Unless you are at a high end mall, you rarely see art work and most common malls have the exact same items.

Rbm
Rbm

Humm should convert them into apartments.

Rocky Raccoon
Rocky Raccoon

My local mall is highlighted on the map. Sears is recently gone. JC Penney's does well here, but...

Mall space that once was high profile stores that are easily recognizable have become places for mom and pop stores selling useless nick nacks and other junk in between empty store fronts.

Clearly it's only a matter of time.

Six000mileyear
Six000mileyear

Malls can be turned into warehouses for people who buy online and have things delivered to their homes.

wmjack
wmjack

Our only Mall just had a shoot out killing one and wounding another Great Society off spring ---really speeds up the Mall death spiral ---

Casual_Observer2020
Casual_Observer2020

Our mall converted its parking lots to outdoor movie theatres during. I think outdoor malls in moderate climates do better. This winter is gonna suck for those places where covid spikes and people are stuck indoors until march or April. The mall was on it's way to a slow death before covid.

FromBrussels
FromBrussels

When empires are crumbling, leading to dramatic and unsustainable social/economic downturns, malls are, or will be, the first targets of the angry mob ! Democrats won t be able to turn the tide, quite the opposite !

anoop
anoop

stage 1: sears goes bankrupt.
stage 2: amazon moves in.
stage 3: more retailers go bankrupt.
stage 4: amazon expands.
stage 5: all retailers dead.
stage 6: mall sold to amazon at a steep loss.

go out and buy $amzn now. it's still not too late.

alpha-protagonist
alpha-protagonist

They need to protect mall parking lots so when the NFL becomes a flag football league, they'll have an economical place to play!

KidHorn
KidHorn

Malls are shuttering where I live, but it's mostly because the owners want the tenants to leave because the land, including parking, is more valuable for condo/office development that it is as a mall. They purposely neglect the upkeep. Many have been sued successfully by store owners, but the store owners are in poor financial position and usually settle for far less then the awarded amount or they go bankrupt during appeal.

Mr. Purple
Mr. Purple

In the UK they have this thing called "council housing." Convert malls into low-income residential.

Greggg
Greggg

In our area, the deterioration of malls started one year at Christmas time. Robberies and car jackings from mall parking lots. The closer the mall was to a freeway, the more frequent it happened. That was 10 or twelve years ago, and mall popularity waned for on line purchases.


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