business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Fortune has a good story about how the American mall - despite problems created by age and a too-great dependence on retailers that are flirting with obsolescence (RadioShack, Sbarro, Brookstone) - isn't dead bust just changing.

"What's happening is that the shopping mall is transforming from the junky teenage hangouts of yesteryear to luxury shopping and entertainment destinations," the story says. "Nielsen reported that the biggest decline in shopping centers came from its more traditional, product-focused regional and super-regional centers. Regional centers decreased as a proportion of all shopping centers by 7% between 2009 and 2013, and super-regional centers decreased by 4% in the same time period. Those kinds of malls are closing and will continue to close -- 15% of all malls are projected to fail in the next 10 years, according to Green Street Advisors."

But actual mall sales are growing: "Total shopping center sales for 2012 topped $2.4 trillion, up 2.8% from 2011, and shopping centers account for more than half of all retail sales in the United States, according to a report by Nielsen."

The piece says that "what Nielsen calls 'lifestyle centers' -- locations with mixtures of traditional retail stores and upscale "leisure uses" such as movie theaters, spas, and high-end restaurants and coffee shops -- made up 15% of the mall landscape in 2013, up from 9% in 2008 … It's further evidence of the bifurcation of consumer spending and of Americans' livelihood in general. After all, since 2009, spending by the top 5% of earners has risen 17%; it's risen just 1% among the bottom 95% of earners."

Robin Sparkles, one imagines, will be at least a little bit relieved.
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