Overbuilding Leaves Malls Under-Occupied

Retail space glut likely to well outlast current economic slowdown
By Jim O'Neill,  Newser User
Posted Sep 10, 2008 10:15 AM CDT
Empty retail space is all that remains of a Bombay Company story at the Town Center Plaza shopping center in Leawood, Kan.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A decade of rapid expansion by developers and an increase in store closings has created a glut of space in malls that could persist for years, the Wall Street Journal reports. “There were a lot of projects that shouldn't have been built” during the past decade, the CEO of the top US mall-owner says. An upside: Rent is coming down for retailers.

Developers added a billion square feet of new shopping space in the past 10 years—boosting the average retail space per consumer from 29 square feet in 1983 to 38 square feet this year. Now, with retailers withdrawing and belts tightening in tough economic times, the developers are canceling projects because “there just aren’t enough tenants to go around.”