Can Malls Survive COVID-19?

Indoor shopping malls are probably in their twilight.

Malls have been fighting a steep uphill battle for years, for one reason or another. The pandemic has turned a tough fight into an desperate, unfair one.

According to Green Street Advisors, shopping malls have lost the most equity value of major businesses since February 21. With most shoppers moving past the idea of the brick-and-mortar department store pre-pandemic, vacancies are going to become far more commonplace than they are right now. Malls have been struggling for several years to fill their spaces, and this pandemic is likely to blow any survival efforts right out of the water.

In my honest opinion, even the most successful malls are going to have a tough time surviving this pandemic. Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, Macy’s and many other of the remaining department stores are in deep trouble. Without major changes to how these companies address their loyal customers, there are going to be more vacancies than malls will know what to do with.

Although Simon Property Group is hoping to reopen 49 malls by April 30 in select states, it is still going to be long process until all retailers inside these malls are comfortable enough to reopen. And will customers want to go to malls that are still 95% closed? Will the department stores rebound?

At this point, there are far more questions than answers.

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