COVID-19

As big department stores struggle, other mall tenants falter, too

Erika Beras Aug 10, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
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When malls start to lose retailers, it hurts all of the other tenants still there like movie theaters, restaurants and more. Al Bello/Getty Images
COVID-19

As big department stores struggle, other mall tenants falter, too

Erika Beras Aug 10, 2020
When malls start to lose retailers, it hurts all of the other tenants still there like movie theaters, restaurants and more. Al Bello/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Macy’s usually posts its second quarter results around this time in August, but the retailer told Marketplace it’s now putting that off until early September, due to the disruptions of the pandemic. Anchors of big malls, including Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Kohl’s, were in shaky positions even before COVID-19. But it isn’t just the anchor stores that are struggling.

Traditionally the mall experience has been about more than shopping at big department stores. There are movie theaters, food courts and cosmetics stores that offer makeovers, for example.

Right now, people aren’t doing much of that, and with other mall retailers starting to close, “it really hurts the remaining tenants that are still there,” said analyst Nick Shields with Third Bridge. “Both from a foot traffic perspective, also from a competitive positioning perspective.”

Even before COVID-19, malls were trying to adapt to people buying more online.

“We’re seeing, in a few months, adoption of e-commerce behaviors that we didn’t expect to see for a few years from now,” said Barbara Kahn, professor of marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

And, as malls start to lose retail tenants, “for other retailers, they’re not going to want to expand into malls where there are quite a lot of vacancies, because there’s not much there for them either,” Shields said.

If vacancy rates increase, Shields said mall owners may have to lower rents.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

It’s been weeks since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum that was supposed to get the federal government back into the business of topping up unemployment benefits, to $400 a week. Few states, however, are currently paying even part of the benefit that the president promised. And, it looks like, in most states, the maximum additional benefit unemployment recipients will be able to get is $300.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

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