Future of US shopping malls in jeopardy amid ongoing pandemic

NOVI, Mich. – No fewer than 20 nationally known retailers have recently filed for bankruptcy.

J. C. Penney, Nieman Marcus and Pier 1 Imports are just a few. Now the once vaunted shopping malls you often found these chains inside of are getting hit hard as well.

There are implications the tough financial crisis could have on shoppers across the country and in Metro Detroit.

Malls started right in Metro Detroit during the 1950s and 1960s. The Taubman company built many of them including Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi.

But the industry is shifting, changing and owners are struggling to get customers in the door and more than that keep the doors open.

Related: What’s shopping in a pandemic like? Drive to your local mall

Fairlane Town Center once owned by mall company Starwood just handed the keys over to the bank.


“Its days as a super regional mall are long gone,” said retail analyst, Jim Bieri.

Partridge Creek, once a Taubman company center now owned by Starwood is without an anchor store.

“Can just as easily go to Somerset or Partridge Creek,” said Bieri while discussing east side shoppers.

Taubman recently sold Twelve Oaks Mall which has lost Sears and Lord and Taylor.

“Without department stores malls are threatened. Without them there are no malls in the present form,” he added.

Bieri leases rental space across Metro Detroit. He says over the years department stores eroded because of specialty brands starting stores, then outlets, then the big box stores took over hardware and furniture.

Meanwhile, many believe Amazon and other online retailers have changed the world.


He says Amazon attracts the highest income shoppers away from department stores, but in the end Bieri believes as outdated as they may seem, the old fashioned shopping mall is not destined to go the way of the dinosaur.

“It’s going to get worse, but shopping in malls are not going to go away. It’s going to be altered and you know the strong will survive and we might end up with six or four in the market, but they’re not going away,” he added.

One of the things Bieri does warn about shopping malls is the fact they are going to need massive amounts of investment to keep strong. But at the same time COVID created a massive pent up demand so the malls may just get the healthy cash infusion they need soon.

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