UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

March 9, 2009

SHOPPING MALLS IN TROUBLE, TOO

Grist - Here's a name that deserves a bit more attention in this financial meltdown: General Growth Properties, which owns, manages, or has interests in more than 200 shopping malls in 45 states. Staggering under a massive debt load and battered by the bad economy, General Growth looks headed for bankruptcy or a fire sale. As recently as last June, its shares fetched $40. Today, you can snap one up for less than 40 cents.

Does General Growth's plight augur the unmalling of America? Maybe. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that:

Last year, [mall-based] retail sales on a per-square-foot basis in the top 54 U.S. markets declined by their greatest extent since the 1990-91 recession. . . Vacancy rates at U.S. malls climbed to 7.1% in the fourth quarter, the highest rate since real estate research firm Reis Inc. started tracking the figure in 2000. And average rents have started to decline.

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