The mall is dead, long live the mall

A strip mall store sits empty in Ontario, Calif.

Big shopping mall owner Simon Property reports earnings on Monday, followed by rival General Growth Properties on Tuesday. General Growth has emerged from bankruptcy, but malls are still digging out from the recession.

You know the boy band One Direction? Well, Mall of America in Minnesota recently opened a pop-up store selling the band’s merchandise. Shoppers lined up at four in the morning. It's just one example of how malls have had to get creative to boost sales.

"Across all the malls we're seeing declines, but more dramatic in the enclosed malls," says Wendy Liebmann, CEO of WSL/Strategic Retail. She says consumers are shopping, but less often at the mall.

"About a third of people tell us they purchased something at the mall in the last three months," she says. That's down from almost 40 percent in her company's survey last year. 

And mall owners have had a hard time filling vacancies from the recession.

"Retailers certainly are much more careful in their site selection," says Jim Spahn, spokesman for Colonial Properties, which owns shopping centers in Alabama and Louisiana.

Still, Colonial's Birmingham mall has landed Target, Fresh Market and DSW shoes.

 

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