Bricks and mortar, mall-based retail is in extremis. There’s no quick cures but there might be some palliatives. From John McNellis at wolfstreet.com:
Every city is confronted with dying malls and vacancy-pocked shopping districts. Is there a cure? No. The failing retailers were already on their way to the morgue. Is there a vaccine that will help? Yes.
Retail has the virus. Just as with people, different retailers are reacting to this infection very differently. Ailing merchants with comorbidities are suffering — or dying — while those without long-term illnesses are asymptomatic, even healthy.
Excess capacity — too many stores — has been American retail’s primary chronic condition for decades. In 2017, Forbes noted, “Since 1995, the number of shopping centers in the U.S. has grown by more than 23% and the total gross leasable area by almost 30%, while the population has grown by less than 14%.”
According to Forbes, America has roughly 50 square feet of retail space per capita while Europe has just 2.5 square feet. We have too many retailers selling the same — let’s call it stuff — in every city in the country.
Where are we today? First, those retailers that you thought died years ago — notably, Sears, J.C. Penney and Kmart — will finally give up the ghost. Then, others with bad management or too much debt or overwhelming competition will also disappear.