Customers are staying away from the mall almost as much as they did six years ago following the recession, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The vacancy rate at malls across the country has hit 8.6 percent, the highest since 2011 when it reached 9.4 percent, according to the real-estate research firm Reis Inc. Vacancies in open-air shopping centers rose in 55 of 77 metropolitan areas that Reis studied, while the vacancy rate for strip malls and community shopping centers reached 10.2 percent.
Big-name corporations, including Toys "R" Us, J.C. Penney Co., and Sears Holdings Corp., have shuttered dozens or hundreds of stores. Toys "R" Us closed all its U.S. stores, about 800 in total, this year, after sales dropped.
Meanwhile, e-commerce sales increased in the first quarter of this year, from 9.1 percent to 9.5 percent, and online retailers like Amazon have begun opening brick-and-mortar stores.
"A store can still reach new shoppers," Tiffany Hogan, Kantar Consulting senior analyst, told the Journal.
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