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Retailers Rethink Malls as Other Locations Report Stronger Sales

malls, retail, outlets

In the latest sign of trouble for the mall, several national retailers are moving outdoors.

That’s according to a Monday (Jan. 15) Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report, which said that a number of brands are turning to shopping centers and strip malls after seeing those locations attract more sales while costing less.

“These retailers are going to grow more confident that they’re barking up the right tree as they continue to see quarter after quarter after quarter of outperformance in their off-mall locations,” Brandon Svec, national director of U.S. retail analytics for data firm CoStar Group, told the WSJ.

Among them is Bath & Body Works, which plans to open 95 new locations while closing 50, most of them in struggling malls. The WSJ said more than half the chain’s 1,840 stores in Canada and the U.S. are now based in places other than enclosed shopping centers.

Foot Locker, meanwhile, aims to have half of its stores in North America outside of malls by 2026, while Signet Jewelers — owner of Kay Jewelers, Zales and Jared — is closing up to 150 American and British locations by the middle of the year, almost all of them in traditional malls. 

According to the WSJ, company executives told investors in 2023 that non-mall stores had stronger sales. Around 60% of Signet’s stores are now outside malls.

As the report noted, not all malls are struggling. 

For example, and as covered here in October, Simon Property Group, the largest mall owner and developer in the U.S., reported seeing growth in tenant sales, especially in its tourism-centric properties, including both outlets and malls.

To get a better sense of what’s happening in the American mall, PYMNTS last year looked at the Mall of America, speaking with Jill Renslow, the mall’s chief business development and marketing officer.

To keep consumers spending, she said, the mall looks to enhance in-store shopping, trying to balance uniqueness and convenience in an age when many shoppers do their shopping online.

Renslow used the example of the Mall of America’s efforts to lean on trends. Last year, that meant embracing all things Barbie.

“Mall of America blended retail and entertainment three decades ago and maintains its focus on finding brands that can enhance the consumer experience, acknowledging the importance of a brand being consistently strong online while delivering something unique in-store,” PYMNTS wrote.

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