Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Is the mall rat an endangered species?
I hate bad news. But this is a little tough to ignore. Mall vacancies have hit a decades-high rate, and some feel the relief may be slow in coming.
Reis released its latest findings earlier this month and the picture isn’t any prettier than it’s been over the last few quarters. The vacancy rate at U.S. strip malls reached a 17-year high in the third quarter of 2009, and mall vacancy was the highest in at least 10 years.
"Our outlook for retail properties as a whole is bleak," said Victor Calanog, Reis director of research. "Until we see stabilization and recovery take root in both consumer spending and business spending and hiring, we do not foresee a recovery in the retail sector until late 2012 at the earliest."
I for one still frequent my mall and favorite strip centers. In fact, one sunny Saturday about two weeks ago, my friend Kay and I spent nine hours at Southpointe shopping center in Lincoln, Neb. I’m not telling how much we spent, but I will say that between us we hit four figures. “Just doing our part,” we said, “to keep our favorite stores in business.”
Banana Republic benefited from our day at the mall, as did Von Maur, Buckle and Victoria’s Secret.
Both of us 40-something, Kay and I don’t fit the demographic of the typical mall rat. But with mall rats in frighteningly short supply, we’re perfectly willing to fill the role as long as we’re able. In fact, we’re planning our next outing, again at Southpointe. Neither of us will be able to approach what we spent on our last trip, but suffice it to say that Banana and Von Maur will know we’ve been there.
-- Katherine Field