Study: Retail Apocalypse Chatter Misinformed

According to research by Fung Global Research & Technology, notions of a “retail apocalypse” in the U.S. have been driven by apparel specialty and apparel-focused department store closures and ignore strength in other brick-and-mortar based channels.

The apparel-related closures have hit regional malls that skew toward apparel but, in terms of occupancy rates, open-air shopping centers and super regional malls in the U.S. have had much better recent years than regionals. Larger, well-invested destination malls that mix traffic-drawing leisure venues with retail have tended to outperform unremarkable regional malls. Open-air centers also benefit from having a strong presence of everyday-goods retailers, such as grocery stores, which support shopper traffic.

Beyond that, many retailers that are actively opening stores, including Aldi and T.J. Maxx, are locating in off-mall locations such as strip centers.

Total physical store sales were up by about 2.5% in 2017, FGRT stated, based on U.S. Census Bureau data. It added that 2018 average in-store sales growth is likely to accelerate.

The grocery and dollar store channels expanded significantly in 2017, FGRT indicated, and the firm calculated that average sales per store and average sales per square foot across U.S. retail advanced last year.