Mall Owners Find Relief From Unlikely Source: Online Retailers

by MR Magazine Staff

Online retailing has been chipping away at mall revenue for years. Now it is starting to make a contribution as well. Retailers are converting empty mall space into makeshift distribution centers used for package pickup and returns of goods bought online. At the same time, online merchants are opening physical stores to reach more customers, either via short-term leases in pop-up stores or long-term tenancies like’s upcoming move into Manhattan’s Time Warner Center. “We don’t view [online retailing] as the enemy, we view it as another distribution channel,” said Stephen Lebovitz, chief executive officer of mall owner CBL & Associates. While online sales make up less than 10% of all retail sales today, Mr. Lebovitz said, the number will grow. More retail centers, including those at town-center locations in smaller cities, are housing Amazon Lockers, which allow Amazon’s online customers to pick up and return packages at their convenience. Other online retailers without any physical stores are looking to provide options for their customers to drop off unwanted purchases in person in shopping centers where they can get immediate refunds. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.