The malls of America have seen better days. In the wake of the still-lingering economic downturn, vacancy rates at shopping centers — of both the “classic mall” and “strip mall” varieties — are at their highest levels since the twentieth century.
The Wall Street Journal reports on new figures that show a 9.1% average vacancy rate in malls in the top 80 U.S. markets, and 11.1% for strip malls.
In 2005, at the height of the boom that preceded collapse, malls were running at 5.1% vacancy while strip malls were at 6.7%.
Not surprisingly, reports the WSJ, the biggest problem areas are those regions that saw the most rapid development during the boom. Shopping centers were constructed around or near homes that have never been moved into.
And as big chain retailers feel the pinch from two sides — a recession economy and increased online shopping — they have had to downsize their bricks-and-mortar outlets.
“We will hit a tipping point soon, if we have not already, where online will become so mainstream that retailers will wonder what they need some of these big boxes for, when you have a retail presence in everyone’s pocket via your smart phone,” a retail consultant tells the paper.
Where do you see the mall fitting into the American shopping landscape in the next 10 years?