Consumers are scared to go out and retailers are floundering. Is there a future for the traditional indoor shopping mall?
Is an Amazon distribution center coming to your local Simon mall?
Seattle-based Amazon is reportedly in talks with the nation’s largest mall operator Simon Property Group to convert empty department stores including Sears and J.C. Penney anchor spaces into distribution centers.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report on the possible talks citing people familiar with the matter. The Journal reported Simon’s discussions with Amazon began before the coronavirus pandemic led to temporary store closures.
Simon and Amazon didn’t immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment Sunday. Sears and J.C. Penney declined to comment.
Department stores and apparel retailers with a heavy commitment to shopping malls have been grappling with declining foot traffic for years but the impact of the pandemic has led many retailers to accelerate store closings.
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“The whole business model of a mall, which is about pulling in as many people as you can and getting them to stay for as long as you can, has just unraveled,” Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy GlobalData Retail, told USA TODAY in July about changes happening at malls.
As many as 25,000 stores could shutter this year as businesses continue to feel the impacts of the pandemic, according to a recent report from Coresight Research.
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Since May, Ascena Retail Group, parent company of Justice, Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant, New York & Company‘s parent company RTW Retailwinds, Lucky Brand, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers, Sur La Table, Neiman Marcus, Tuesday Morning, Tailored Brands, GNC, Lord + Taylor and J. Crew have all filed for Chapter 11.
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Contributing: Nathan Bomey, USA TODAY
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko
Your next Amazon box might look a little different.
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