Revamped Malls Are Starting to Reap the Rewards of New Stores

What do shoppers want? Something new, apparently.

A major mall owner in the Northeast, the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, says it saw double-digit traffic growth at several of its properties with redeveloped anchor stores and new tenant mixes over Thanksgiving weekend, a good omen going into the crucial holiday season.

PREIT touted in particular the Viewmont Mall in Scranton, Penn., which got an 11 percent lift in traffic between Thursday and Sunday over the same period last year. The shopping center once housed a Sears store but has since filled the vacancy left by the bankrupt big-box retailer with a Dick’s Sporting Goods, a Home Goods and a Field & Stream. This is a model other mall operators around the country are surely looking to emulate as Sears continues to shutter locations around the country, leaving significant swaths of empty square footage in its wake.

The company also saw a 13 percent increase at its Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids, Mich. The former Sears location closed in March and has since been demolished to make room for the upscale Midwest department store Von Maur. Retailers including Altar’d State, Hollister and Victoria’s Secret have also recently opened or renovated stores in the mall, and Urban Outfitters and REI are set to open new locations there in 2019.

These traffic gains echo an overall trend throughout the industry over the holiday shopping weekend, which saw consumer spending hit new records on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday and beyond. It’s also good news for owners that are investing billions in redeveloping malls across the country, although less so for those that are still struggling to find new tenants and modernize their existing properties, since the competition is only getting fiercer.

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