So What Are We Going to Do with the Retail Malls?

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The Painstaking Relentless Collapse of Brick-and-Mortar Retail.

“Our fourth quarter results reflect the impact of rapidly-changing consumer behavior, which drove very strong digital growth but unexpected softness in our stores,” lamented Target CEO Brian Cornell this morning in the earnings release.

“Unexpected” is a hilarious choice of words. Because we, mere outsiders, have been vivisecting the now structural brick-and-mortar retail quagmire for a long time, and no deterioration is “unexpected.”

Target’s revenues in the fourth quarter fell 4.3% year-over-year to $20.7 billion. Revenues for the whole year dropped 5.8% to $69.5 billion. Down from $69.8 billion in fiscal 2011. That makes for six years of sales stagnation.

Net income plunged 43% to $817 million for the quarter, and 19% for the year to $2.7 billion. But at least, Target is still making money – unlike other retailers, many of which are either already in bankruptcy or are slithering toward it.

Sales at stores open for at least a year fell 1.5% in the quarter and 0.5% for the year. It expects same-store sales to fall further in the “low-to-mid single” digits. Target also lowered its outlook for earnings, which caused even retail optimists to howl in pain.

Target’s shares crashed 14% at the open today – which would be its worst one-day dollar-decline since its IPO in 1972. Currently at $58.53, shares are down 30% from their 52-week high.

But Target has a plan. It has had plans for years. So another plan, including 12 new brands over the next two years. And it “will invest in lower gross margins” to get competitive.

Which means it will cut prices. Which means it’ll have to sell more merchandise just to keep dollar sales even. And that’s unlikely. Which means it’s going to hurt dollar sales further. Which is going to maul earnings even more. Hence the dive in the shares.

Everyone is trying to be competitive. Wal-Mart started running price-comparison tests in about 1,200 stores, and it’s pressuring suppliers to cut prices, something Wal-Mart has long been infamous for. Being a supplier to Wal-Mart can be a curse.




Wal-Mart too is under pressure. Last week it reported that quarterly revenues inched up merely 1% year-over-year, after announcing last year that it would close 154 stores. But its online sales jumped 36%, after the acquisition of Jet.com last year, for which it had shelled out $3 billion.

Brick-and-mortar retailers all know what they have to do to survive: ease out of brick-and-mortar, and get big online. Or else.

Target’s crummy results too were boosted by a 34% jump in online sales. But from a small base. So it wasn’t nearly enough. And online is even more competitive than brick-and-mortar.

J.C. Penney touted its buy-online-pickup-in-store options when it reported “positive net income” – instead of negative net income, we assume – of $1 million for the year on a decline in sales. And analysts cut their price target to $7.50 a share from $12. Shares currently trade at $6.35, down 4.3% for the day.

To raise cash, the company is trying to sell distribution centers and other properties that aren’t leased, but most of the stores are leased and there isn’t much to sell. In January it sold its headquarters in Plano, Texas, for $353 million. It’s also shuttering two distribution centers, which it owns and might be able to sell.

On Friday, it said it would shutter between 130 and 140 stores over the next few months, or around 13% to 14% of its 1,014 or so stores. But closing a leased store isn’t cheap – lease termination expenses can add up. J.C. Penney tried to put a positive spin on it, claiming that the closings would save roughly $200 million a year. But it would cost $225 million to do so. Once retailers decline, there’s no easy way out.

Macy’s too is focusing on its thriving online presence and slashing its brick-and-mortar footprint. Last August it announced the closure of 100 stores. It already sold its flagship men’s store in the prime Union Square location in San Francisco.

They’re all doing it. Target has pulled out of Canada in 2015 and has been closing stores in the US since 2016. Sears Holdings, which is skittering into bankruptcy, but not before the second half of 2017, has been shuttering Sears and Kmart stores left and right. It announced another 150 store closings in January.

Ratings agencies have been warning about retailers. Fitch expects their default rate to spike to 9% by the end of this year.

Moody’s yesterday warned that retailers have replaced oil & gas as the most distressed sector. Of the retailers it rates, 14% are rated Caa/Ca, which is in deep junk. At the worst point during the Financial Crisis, 16% were rated that low, and many buckled under their debts. It expects current retailers to beat that sad record over the next few years.

But credit is still flowing as investors chase yield, for now. Moody’s retail analyst Charles O’Shea:

“While credit markets continue to provide ready access for companies spanning the rating spectrum—allowing many to proactively refinance debt and bolster balance sheets—that could change abruptly if market conditions or investor sentiment shift.”

Retail chains – some due to bankruptcy or restructuring, others due to “foot-print rationalization” – have announced plans to shutter over 2,500 stores last year and so far this year, according to my own estimates, which are limited to the biggest names in retail. Smaller operations just disappear. That adds up to some serious mall space. The pace of store closings will pick up from here. And it will go on for years to come.

In some cases, these locations can be redeveloped. Uber bought the art-deco Sears Building in Oakland and is remodeling it for its new headquarters. The buyer of Macy’s men’s store in San Francisco will redevelop it into something else. No problem. But closing thousands of stores at already struggling malls around the country, in an industry – brick-and-mortar retail – that will remain on a sharp downward curve, cannot be so easily dealt with. And it will dog investors in that space for years to come.

This is happening for the first time in the US since the Financial Crisis. Read… Oops, this Isn’t Supposed to Happen in a Rosy Credit Scenario




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  98 comments for “So What Are We Going to Do with the Retail Malls?

  1. Feb 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    A consumer realignment coupled with a loss in extra available cash due to inflation Obamacare etc…

  2. Jeanne Roberts
    Feb 28, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    We need homeless shelters, affordable housing, additional jail space, and segregated spaces for pedophiles. That’s what we do with retail space, instead of bulldozing it to build more houses and townhouses that no one can afford.

    • Michael Fiorillo
      Feb 28, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Additional jail space, really?

      While already having the world’s largest incarcerated population?

      Are you a CCA stockholder?

      • Petunia
        Feb 28, 2017 at 6:41 pm

        I remember, in Florida somewhere in the Ft. Lauderdale area, one of the juvenile courts being in a strip mall.

      • Chauncy Gardiner
        Mar 1, 2017 at 9:32 am

        CCA has new name CoreCivic. And J.R. is right that we need new shelters, etc. Whether OP is stockholder is unknown to me but:

        http://fox6now.com/2017/02/25/private-prison-stocks-up-100-since-president-trumps-win/
        “The stocks of the two biggest private prison operators — CoreCivic (formerly know as Corrections Corp. of America) and Geo Group have doubled since election day. CoreCivic is up 140% since President Trump won in November; Geo Group has risen 98%.”

        and

        Prison Stocks Soar Under Trump As Jeff Sessions Okays Private Jails

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/adamsarhan/2017/02/24/prison-stocks-soar-under-trump-as-sessions-oks-private-jails-again/#74abd77510ce

        • Sonomendo Steve
          Mar 1, 2017 at 6:49 pm

          Yeah. The FEMA camp conspiracy crowd has to realize the goal here is gutting ALL pesky government and privatizing everything.
          USA INC.
          The race for the c-suites, (or at least upper management) is on!

    • Mike B
      Feb 28, 2017 at 5:42 pm

      LOL, I sense an “escape from” themed movie opportunity here. Only problem is, who will play the Snake Pliskin character? Kurt Russell is getting a little long in the tooth

      • Paulo
        Feb 28, 2017 at 10:24 pm

        In my nearby town they turned it into what the owners call “Indoor Storage Solutions”. People keep their boats and RVs there.

      • AAnon
        Mar 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm

        Mike B,
        Funny you should mention that=http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Escape-From-York-Remake-Happening-Get-Details-69153.html You’re talking about Escape from New York, c.1981. I wonder if the movie execs know anything we don’t?

    • Sonomendo Steve
      Feb 28, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      In the 50’s-60’s, when America had a big happy middle class, (at least the whites did) they also had happy 1000 sq ft (or less) 2-3 bed, 1 bath, 1 wall heater, no frills, well built homes with 1-4 kids. Life was just fine. (don’t we want to live great again?) I think creative architects could do wonders with malls and strip malls, including 2-500 sq ft homes for singles and seniors.
      The scenes of bulldozing 100’s of brand NEW 2500+ sq ft, all the bells and whistles, homes in Victorville during the Crisis literally almost made me puke, as did taking thousands of NEW Honda 600 sedans off shore from Seattle and dumping them in the ocean. To WORSEN my frustration, I now see very expensive “tiny homes” and expensive Mini Coopers.
      What sort of SICK social/economic system produces such behaviors?

      • bumperthecool
        Feb 28, 2017 at 10:07 pm

        Well written.

    • Joe Dubyah
      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:47 am

      And mandatory participation food gardens for able bodied people receiving food assistance that I pay for. Learn how to garden..get the proceeds in groceries, gain self-esteem by contributing to self reliance, and better exercise than watching TV. BTW..Who has time for TV? I am paying you to stay home and chill?

      The wagon pullers are getting tired of the heavy yoke of the wagon riders expectations.

      • Mary
        Mar 1, 2017 at 11:24 am

        If we could just force people to do a lot of unpaid labor, it would sure ease the tax burden on the rest of us. Why stop with folks who are getting food stamps? I mean, where do most of your tax dollars go? Why the Pentagon. If we could force the military-industrial complex to work for free, we’d save some serious money.

        • Thunderstruck
          Mar 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm

          I spent six years in the U.S. Navy during the early 80’s.
          During those days I sure felt like I was working for free at times.
          Once, while on a 7 month deployment I figured my wages came out to just under $2 an hour. Maybe there is some extra cash laying around in the coffers of “Generous Dynamics? I doubt there is much largess in the pockets of our sailors and soldiers…..

        • Sonomendo Steve
          Mar 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

          I quit a decent gas station job in ’67 to go work for the Army. No choice. The other forced choice of a monthly $6 savings bond was about the only spare cash I had to help with people’s tax situations. Like the Sailor says, we workers weren’t living it up on your tax dollar, but he has a pretty good idea about who was.

        • GSX
          Mar 2, 2017 at 6:33 am

          Less than 1% serve in the military. Recruiters have no problem attracting poor whites and mostly inner city minorities. Never seen a Trump serve either. So anyone thinking you get rich in the military should go visit a VA care facility.
          The upper middle class whites do not serve nor do the 1 %.

          Work for free would just about explain the lack of real wage growth in the last 40 years Mary. Ask Trump if his precious over paid entitled kids are going to man up soon and deploy to Syria since he wants to expand boots on the ground there.

    • Ethan in Northern VA
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:11 am

      Makerspaces, hackerspaces, live event spaces, museums.

  3. BrianC
    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    Selling your product through Walmart is the kiss of death…

    I remember an article from 2006. “The man who said no to Walmart”. (Was on fastcompany.com, but when I tried the link that the Google came up with it gave me a 500 error.)

    Jim Wier, who ran (runs) Snapper declined, in 2006, to sell through Walmart. The article goes over his reasoning.

    Though it appears that even he couldn’t escape Walmart.

    As for me… I can’t remember the last time I was in a Mall. I shop local for groceries and visit a few specialty shops. (Mostly for bike stuff or some hobby items and that is it.)

    • Ethan in Northern VA
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Glen Greenwald (I believe the same one of the Informer, Snowden, etc) had a documentary in 2005: “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), ”

      It was pretty good.

    • Lucy
      Mar 2, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      We visit Mall of America to play at the indoor theme park during the brutal Minnesota winters. We rarely spend any money at the actual stores, though the (really bad) restaurants get too much money.

  4. ru82
    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:11 pm

    What is odd is that Home Depot and Lowes are doing well. I guess they carry a lot of things people do not want to buy online? I have bought things online from HD or Lowes but I usually buy it if it is in the store and then go pick it up.

    That being said our family buys a lot online these days. Clothing, shoes, office supplies, electronics, games. I would say 90% of online purchases are from Amazon.

    • Suzie Alcatrez
      Feb 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

      Home Depot and Lowes sell a lot to construction and remodeling crews who can’t wait 3 days + a lot of their items are heavy, difficult to ship, or classified as hazardous materials.

  5. pete
    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Since the US seems to be obsessed with sports — how about Malls converted into Sports Pavilions…you know, indoor driving ranges, indoor soccer, swimming, exercise/weight rooms, basketball, racketball, etc., etc., along the lines of NYC’S s Chelsea Piers.

    Just a thought …PJS

    • Erich
      Feb 28, 2017 at 8:53 pm

      Grapevine Mills Mall, one of the huge regional malls near me, lost their JC Pennys store recently. The wife and I went by there yesterday and the space is now occupied by some type of indoor sports arena … I’m thinking indoor soccer.

    • roddy6667
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:50 pm

      Yes. America needs more Bread And Circuses.
      /sarc

  6. Noz Cavan
    Feb 28, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    When Walmart and other brick and mortar stores start thing out of the box, they will recover.

  7. RD Blakeslee
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Mall buildings are just the latest.

    Buildings no longer useful for their designed purpose are to be found everywhere in “older” areas of the U.S. (Older in the U.S. is 50 years or so.)

    While we try to plaster over the problem with artifices like tax credits for “historical registrations”, our culture is not like the “old world’s”, where antiquity becomes such because its architecture is intended for esthetic perpetuity.

    • Kent
      Feb 28, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      My little burg has 2 small malls both built in the 1960s. One was demolished and a new outdoor mall is going up. This is a place where temperatures run in the 90’s 7 months of the year (Florida). It big anchor? Hobby Lobby.

      The other is anchored by a Sears. Place is doomed.

  8. unit472
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Malls are centrally located, have abundant parking and can be bought for lot less than the $100 million or so a new high school costs. Big enough to put a Junior college on site too.

    • Mickey
      Feb 28, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      how many more schools do we need? especially with slow population growth.

    • Frederick
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:06 am

      Just what we need Another “junior” college NOT

  9. LZ
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Daycare? School ? Home for Veterans ? Training for military / police ? Condos? Robot storage? Police headquarters (actually more secure than offices. Vertical farm, to grow veggies?

    • roddy6667
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      More military??? More police??? America has too much military spending and the police are everywhere. It now meets the definition of a Police State. Everything is a police matter now. Travel outside America for a while. When you return, you will see it.

  10. rich
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Turn enclosed malls into mega-churches or into Amazon warehouses. The big church biz should be getting better all the time, and Amazon could probably use some metropolitan delivery centers.

    • TJ Martin
      Mar 1, 2017 at 5:28 pm

      A little insider information for your edification ;

      Mega Churches , the Evangelical church and in fact Protestant Christianity in America in general are on a steep decline as the millennials stay away , Boomers such as the wife and I become ‘ Nones ‘ [ as in we no longer attend any church or subscribe to any denomination due to the blatant hypocrisy of todays so called Evangelical church ] the birth rate continues to decline , the aged die off etc . The Mega Church overall has become a ‘ revolving door ‘ with donations lagging far behind costs , debts racking up in the billions across the US just to keep the doors open and churches closing their doors by the hundreds regardless of the propaganda their pastors may be telling you . Fact .. not fiction . So No Go on that idea . No one can afford it

    • 728huey
      Mar 5, 2017 at 5:11 pm

      Actually, one of the former first generation enclosed malls in my hometown that had a JC Penney, a Bergners department store (like a regional Macy’s) and several local shops is now a mega church and a community college. There are still some local shops there, but its use as a mall has long since passed. Another local enclosed mall I used to work at as a teenager that had a Bergners department store, a Kohl’s department store, a JC Penney, a movie multiplex, and the usual mall chain stores, basically died in the 2000’s. They remodeled some of the space into big box stores, but a medical device company moved into one of the former anchor spaces. The JC Penney store closed down two years ago, and the Bergners store just closed down after the Christmas season.

  11. Feb 28, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    Who cares about the store numbers? What about the job numbers that will be lost?
    Walmart 2,300,000
    Target – 341K
    TJX – 260K
    Sears – 178K
    Macy’s- 157K
    Gap – 141K
    JCP – 105K
    Ross – 77K
    Nordstrom’s – 72K
    Kohl’s- 32K

    Will amazon replace these jobs now that sales supposedly moved online? What happens when trump tariffs hit low prices at shops like walmart? Will they keep their prices low or shed some employees?

    When are we all going to smell that the sh*t hit the fan and it’s slowly dripping down all our faces? When will the markets reflect the chaos in the streets?

    Beware the ides of march when grover’s tea party comes face to face with the debt ceiling.

    I got my popcorn. Strap in folks. It’s gonna be a wild ride and we’ll get to finally see if the dollar is king or if Peter Schiff was right all these years.

    • Sonomendo Steve
      Feb 28, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Along that line, a generalized notion I have formed watching other retail stories. Before your local Home Depot folds, get out if you CAN. Because if you are still there when the Wal-Mart goes, you are in big trouble. These new ghettos are springing up constantly….and they are NOT all primarily minority….they are economic class based.

  12. Mike B
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    I have an off the wall theory that I think explains some of the precipitous decline in the ‘brick n’ mortar’ world. Americans just don’t like each other that much anymore.

    The whole shopping mall “experience” was never all that pleasant in my opinion any way but then, I fully admit to being a dyed in the wool misanthrope.

    But now it’s obvious that your average American muppet is so stressed out, put upon, poorly educated, mean spirited and just generally unpleasant that none of us want to have any interaction with each other.

    When you can buy everything from fruit loops to cat litter on Amazon why subject yourself to the general population?

    • DH
      Feb 28, 2017 at 6:23 pm

      I’m not so sure. The main reason we even go to the mall is to get out of the house in bad weather. We rarely actually buy anything when we’re there. lol

    • RD Blakeslee
      Feb 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Take this a step farther and live in the country.

      • CrazyCooter
        Feb 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        Or Alaska. :-D

        Regards,

        Cooter

        • Mike B
          Mar 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm

          I’ve been to Alaska and as the locals like to say, ‘The odds er good but the goods er ODD!’ LOL.

    • Steve
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      Rats in a cage. Problem is too many people and our traditions and values are disappearing. JMHO

  13. Kasadour
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:53 pm

    What about the local tax implications on the collapse of brick and mortar retail? The tax collected for online sales doesn’t help the local fire, police, schools and other infrastructure at local level. Hence we see increases in property taxes and levies on property to make up the revenue shortfalls.

    • Mickey
      Feb 28, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      do not forget all the incentives that were given to developers to put up malls of all sizes. My town just gace 10 years of incentive for a new developmnet with stores and condos.

      Gave a large independent hardware store large bucks to do the same, except at the other end of development, a good long par 5 away, is a Lowes and 1 mile away is a HD.

      These elected leaders are dumb son of a guns. So now its election time and a lultitude of people are running to replace these folks. Of course, in giving the incentive they also gave away prime open wooded property.

  14. Curious Cat
    Feb 28, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    “Of the retailers it rates, 14% are rated Caa/Ca…”

    Caca, indeed!

  15. Petunia
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    Consumer’s shopping habits have changed since the financial crisis. We use to buy a shopping cart full of groceries, not anymore. Now we take a list and buy only what we need. I don’t see anybody else buying shopping carts full of groceries anymore. In fact, I see couples shopping together and being very careful with what they buy.

    The same thing at the mall. No more wandering around and spending an extra $100 you weren’t thinking of spending. I go exactly where I need to go and then leave.

    • Pavel
      Mar 1, 2017 at 7:55 am

      Great article and comments, Wolf (as usual). This point is key I think. I spend time in the UK and Paris and over the last few years have noticed a big change in shopping habits — in both cities, people are going to new “local” supermarkets (small or mid-size) and shopping only for a day or two’s meals, instead of a weekly huge shopping trip. People (well, a certain class of people) are also trying to eat healthier and fresher food and less food.

      A completely separate and fascinating trend is the falling rates of car ownership by the millennials, who prefer to live in cities instead of the suburbs. (A lot of them also don’t have money for cars, it seems, due to college debt burdens.) An increasing number don’t even have driving licenses! Of course Uber and other services contribute to this trend.

      The shopping malls were based on the automobile culture… another reason for their woes.

    • Ethan in Northern Va
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:16 am

      Just go on WIC day! Shopping carts full of groceries!

    • Ed
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      One can easily spend $100 on groceries if trying to eat a healthy diet and that if far less than a cart full.

  16. gorbachov
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:26 pm

    With my daughter we went mall shopping looking for shoes
    in an wide width.Many stores later we quit.
    10 pairs of shoes were later ordered online and we kept one pair,later returning the rest.
    Department stores beat out general stores because they were better and now online is doing the same thing.
    I still shop at deparment stores but like them I am out of fashion.

  17. akiddy111
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    Short some mall REIT’s such as Simon Property Group etc. That’s what we can do with them.

    Maybe the liquidators can turn them all into ice skating rinks and bouncy castle treats for the little ones.

    • Frederick
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:13 am

      Ice skating rinks? Isn’t the Donald an expert on building those efficiently and under budget? Maybe your onto something

    • MC
      Mar 1, 2017 at 2:42 am

      While on paper this is sound strategy, especially for marginal REIT’s, we should always keep a weather eye on central banks.
      The Bank of Japan has been buying J-REIT’s like there’s no tomorrow for years now. The last twenty years have shown us Japan is always a few years ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to crazy monetary and financial policies aimed at gutting short (aka “malicious”) sellers.

  18. James
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:38 pm

    Planet Fitness is located in the mall near me and the rest of the mall is pretty much dead. And Costco is opening up just down the street so more competition to kill off the mall. I can’t wait for Costco and their fast food section woo hoo.

    • Petunia
      Feb 28, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      I love discount shopping, but paying a membership fee to shop, does not compute and is a big system failure.

      • CrazyCooter
        Feb 28, 2017 at 8:04 pm

        I refused to get a Costco card for years – until I eventually bought a full size chamber vacuum sealer and a full size stand up freezer. It is the only way it pencils out as the wife and I can’t eat the quantity they sell unless we freeze portions in vacuum seal bags.

        They have good prices and good quality – it is just the quantity that is an issue – at least for us.

        Regards,

        Cooter

        • Alex Locker
          Mar 1, 2017 at 6:43 am

          There are some benefits to Costco that even some members don’t realize. They have an excellent return policy especially on electronics. If you have issues they exchange defective products easily. Ever try to return a product to Best Buy? Good luck. The employees also tend to not be a-holes at least around the Chicagoland Costco’s.

        • Michael Fiorillo
          Mar 1, 2017 at 9:41 am

          Maybe the workers are more pleasant because Costco is a comparatively benign employer, providing higher wages and superior benefits to most other retail companies.

          Wow, pay and treat your workers well (or at least, not sub-poverty wages), and they’ll be happier and more productive: who’da thunk it?

        • Ethan in Northern Va
          Mar 1, 2017 at 10:19 am

          I haven’t checked recently but it used to be that tires easily justified a one year membership (the year you need tires.) I keep an old expired card handy so I can still walk through and scope out the deals just incase I decide to return. Can always get friends with memberships to hook you up.

      • Mike G
        Mar 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

        If you have friends/family who are members, slip them some bucks to buy you Costco Cash Cards — then you can shop there without being a member. Use a $10 Cash Card for each visit and pay the rest in cash.

  19. william
    Feb 28, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    For decades, global comparisons of U.S. shopping space per person vs. other countries has always showed a huge surplus in the U.S. Often analysts cited longer store hours, lower land costs, etc. to justify the glut of retail space.

    Also, shoppers patting themselves on their back for buying less are kidding themselves. Healthcare and education take a bigger chunk of Americans’ wallet leaving less for retail shopping. There is no widespread frugal trend. There’s just less cash for retail spending.

    • Thunderstruck
      Mar 1, 2017 at 2:27 pm

      >” Healthcare and education take a bigger chunk of Americans’ wallet leaving less for retail shopping.”<

      I think you may be onto something!
      Why don't we combine the two biggest factors mentioned – and reap the benefits.
      If we could somehow create a "Commercial/Retail Healthcare Center", we will have a winning business plan.
      Picture this: Walmart (or Target) Health Care Centers!
      Walk-Ins- aisle one, Emergency Room – aisle two, specialists – wherever. Need an operation? Please wait in line over by the area previously known as Layaway. Have a Walmart or Target credit card? YOU can save thousands. Oh, and since they both already have pharmacies, this is just a natural expansion of their "core business", isn't it? The abandoned malls can be turned into boutique medical practices, with healthy alternatives only available in their food courts.

  20. Mickey
    Feb 28, 2017 at 7:30 pm

    a lot of reits, big and small are leveraged 4:1 or more. Their occupancy is down, cash flow is down, and thus when the next balloon comes up the lender has to think about what to do.
    See thePittsburgh mall where Wells Fargo was lender and bought it got $100.

    • Frederick
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:15 am

      Yes that’s true however they held the huge mortgage on that place so the price of a hundred is decieving

    • Ace
      Mar 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

      Pittsburgh Mills. We used to live there and visited a few times. Last time we were there I think 20% of it was vacant and a large chunk was turned into a school of some type.

  21. Feb 28, 2017 at 7:43 pm

    If, in the 1950s and 1960s when the suburban build-out to “miracle miles” of pavement, and nameless, faceless nowhere stores began, retailers had objected, and tried to create a more integrated, liveable suburban world, instead of endless “nowhere” of disposable concrete and parking lots, they might still have a business. Malls are ugly and separated by miles of “demolition derby” freeways. Nobody sane who can buy on the internet wants to go there.

    • Frederick
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:17 am

      Is that you James Kunstler?

      • Sonomendo Steve
        Mar 1, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Doesn’t matter who it is, Fredrick. It seems the bigger the “INC” the more social evil it can do. They most certainly were considered dangerously evil in 1776 and for a while afterwards till they infiltrated government. “Borers” they were called back then. Today; lobbyists.
        Also helps explain why the top 0.1% has wealth equal to the bottom 90%. Do we have TWO economies here rather than one?
        Can a simple statistic be stand-alone IMMORAL?
        With over $90 Trillion in NET USA household wealth now, that stat sure is.

  22. FluffyGato
    Feb 28, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Under the assumption the vacant malls will be converted to FEMA/re-education camps.

    I call top bunk.

    • Frederick
      Mar 1, 2017 at 1:18 am

      That’s the most likely scenario Fluffy See you there brother

  23. Doug
    Feb 28, 2017 at 9:47 pm
  24. NotSoSure
    Feb 28, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    I vote we turn them into … Jedi temples. I want to swing my lightsaber.

    Anyone want to write an article how America is turning into China with the ghost malls?

  25. interesting
    Feb 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm

    “Everyone is trying to be competitive”

    I really did laugh out load when i read that. In an economy based on exporting well paying jobs and importing unskilled people so that you can pay them less and a middle class on the edge of bankruptcy I’d say your business model of ever lower prices is going to end in disaster.

    But then again who ever thought that destroying the middle class was a good idea?

    • Bobber
      Feb 28, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      After turning 45 I’ve found that there is little I want to buy. Junk doesn’t make you happy. Any shopping I still do i completely on-line. I have no time to waste looking for items in store isles.

      • Frederick
        Mar 1, 2017 at 1:20 am

        Very true Bob Everyone has more than enough “stuff”

      • Ivy
        Mar 1, 2017 at 9:49 am

        As someone further along the story arc, I can tell you to expect to have many more “I’m not in the target demographic” moments, drifting into senior moments :)

        • RD Blakeslee
          Mar 1, 2017 at 10:02 am

          Malls are as dead as the now-razed Ford 8N farm tractor factory in Dearborn MI (once a suburban town, now within Detroit) or the Chevrolet Grey Iron Foundary now absent from Saginaw, MI.

      • Ethan in Northern VA
        Mar 1, 2017 at 10:23 am

        I am a tinkerer and I buy broken things to fix for fun. Odd things. I still enjoy finding equipment to play with, then sometimes sell it off. I think I’ve slowed down recently, although I want to shed a bunch of stuff and move to quality (one fast computer versus 5 slow computers, etc.)

        I think the younger generation can’t really afford a place to put stuff — it becomes a liability. I know, as a renter, I feel like it is for me.

        • Petunia
          Mar 1, 2017 at 10:40 am

          My son built me a super pc in an old Gateway case. It looks ancient, but it’s not. Retro is big with geeks these days.

    • Sonomendo Steve
      Mar 1, 2017 at 7:59 pm

      Don’t forget our ever-increasing clever ways to burn fossil fuels.
      “But then whoever thought bankrupting the planet was a good idea?”

  26. Gregg Armstrong
    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:22 am

    The esthetic appeal of the vast majority of shopping malls would be greatly improved by allowing the US military to use them for active bombing ranges. They were all built with the goal of making them as ugly externally as possible and the interiors of most are not much better. They were built as cheaply as possible and were not meant to last. All those factors are major impediments to “repurposing” them for any other uses. They are all probably most suited as zombie habitats after the apocalypse.

  27. ALBERT CHAMPION
    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:47 am

    so gerald hines put up a mall in houston. virtually out in the sticks when it was opened[40years ago?] called it the galleria. anchored by neiman-marcus and saks fifth avenue.

    and a couple of hotels.

    i was in it a couple of years ago to pick up some foreign currency. on a sunday. i thought that i had visited a foreign country. no one was buying anything. they were all there just to socialize. and they were mostly hispanics.

    most of the stores were empty. but the food court was doing a booming business.

    that was a sunday afternoon. a few years later, on a week-day afternoon, it was like a ghost town.

    has anyone else noticed this? if my observations are accurate, how can a retailer afford the lease rates? and for how long?

    • Petunia
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:34 am

      Is this the one with the ice skating rink? I was there in the 80’s and the only thing I could afford was $50 underwear. You needed a membership and a reservation, before they would let you on the elevator, to go upstairs to the restaurant. Very very snooty, even by New York City standards.

  28. Bvde
    Mar 1, 2017 at 3:07 am

    Turn them back into nature – restore what was ploughed under and maybe we’ll find our soul.

  29. Del Griffith
    Mar 1, 2017 at 9:48 am

    Turn them into “Running Man” type facilities. Send prisoners/runners out to battle to the death with stalkers. Pay-per-view, sell tickets, lots of marketing oppo’s.

  30. Scott
    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:17 am

    downtown stores that can be converted into office buildings. Rackspace converted an old mall into its headquarters. http://inhabitat.com/rackspace-converts-vacant-shopping-mall-into-leed-gold-headquarters/
    I’ve talked to people who’ve been there and they preferred to purpose build HQs for similar companies, in large part because they used many of the mall’s existing features.

    But I don’t think the Ubers of the world would be interested in something like this.

    • Petunia
      Mar 1, 2017 at 10:20 am

      There’s an upscale interior design mall in south Florida that did the same thing during the financial crisis. They turned one of the upper floors into office space.

    • william
      Mar 1, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Rackspace HQ is a huge mess. They give a phone app to employees to find their way around, yet it rarely helps. Parking is a mess and employee events are chaotic. Rackspace’s second attempt of the same type of mall re-purposing in Austin was scratched and replaced with plans to build a new building (which may have been scratched again by their new owners).

  31. Petunia
    Mar 1, 2017 at 10:17 am

    A new thing I recently noticed is consolidation of retail brands. At an outlet mall I noticed what would usually be two separate stores in one space. I noticed because the products were not complementary. I think it was kids clothes and sun glasses in one space. And yes, there were a few empty stores.

  32. Ed
    Mar 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    The big mall owners will sell them at fire sale prices to some local sucker who has some bad/impractical /unworkable idea for repurposing the structure. Said local sucker will be grossly undercapitalized for the purpose of pulling it off and will quickly end up in BK. Structure will rot until the municipal government gets title to the property and spends tax dollars to tear it down.

    • Petunia
      Mar 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      The original mall in West Palm Beach, FL was torn down and rebuilt as an outdoor outlet mall. I hear it is very popular. Everybody loves discount shopping.

  33. West
    Mar 1, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I’d imagine I’m not the only conservative who won’t set foot in Target because of the political policies on the transgender bathroom issue. They need to stay out of the political correctness realm and focus on providing the right products at the right prices. I’m sure management would say there is no impact from this group, but my personal experience and anecdotal evidence from my group of friends says otherwise, and now the data confirms that all is not well.

    • Petunia
      Mar 1, 2017 at 8:42 pm

      I’m with you on this one. The can push their pc agenda, but I don’t have to help pay for it.

    • Frederick
      Mar 2, 2017 at 6:26 am

      I cut up my Target card awhile ago Haven’t been in a Target for a year

  34. mean chicken
    Mar 1, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Repurpose to military and big data centers. Recall,highways were built for transporting military equipment,no? Here,there’s a solar project using 11 acres of railroad right of way for each home serviced.

    IMO, American middle class will be permanently destitute in a decade if globalists have their prayers answered.

  35. Hey Driver
    Mar 2, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Turn them into truck parking. Many are well located and big truck stop chains are starting to charge for parking. TA/Petro gets about $12.00 for a reserved spot now. When the EOBR mandate takes effect at the end of the year an already difficult parking situation for us truckers is going to turn to total chaos.

    Bring in some porta-potties, charge rent to an all night taco truck and I would be happy to pay for a lot of urban locations.

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