NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The American mall long has been left for dead it's been alleged. The sprawling retail campuses were thought to be headed toward extinction as people navigated virtual aisles on the newest gadgets from Apple (AAPL) , Google (GOOG) , Amazon (AMZN) and Samsung.
But interestingly almost the complete opposite has happened at malls across the country despite mass store closures from major tenants such as specialty retailers Gap (GPS) , Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) , Aeropostale (ARO) and American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) , and even a vital anchor partner in the beleaguered Sears (SHLD) . Driving the rebirth of the mall have been investments by property owners in new dining experiences (bye-bye McDonald's (MCD) , hello P.F. Chang's), upgraded storefront appearances, and new luxury labels that range from a Louis Vuitton inside a Macy's (M) to a stand-alone Hugo Boss specialty shop.
Simon Property Group (SPG) coming into 2014 owned or held interests in 308 income-producing properties in the U.S. It now has 228 following the spinoff of Washington Prime Group in May. Boasting a market cap of $53.8 billion, the company is the biggest player in the market, with General Growth Partners (GGP) a distant second at a market valuation of $22.2 billion.
According to Bloomberg, Simon Property's rental income growth has accelerated for two consecutive quarters, increasing 8.7% in the second quarter. Competitors Vornado (VNO) and General Growth Partner logged a rental income decline of 1.1% and an increase of 2.7%, respectively, in the second quarter. Amid a group consisting of General Growth Partners, Kimco Realty (KIM) , and Macerich (MAC) , Simon Property's occupancy rate is more than 11 points higher, according to Bloomberg.