The big box bust that’s storming through the nation doesn’t seem to be lightening up any time soon. Unprecedented retail mega-stores now shutting down at an incomprehensible pace due to evolving consumer trends via internet purchases and accommodating delivery services. Kmart, Toys ‘R Us, Sears, Carson Pirie Scott, Abercrombie & Fitch, Barnes & Noble, J. Crew (U.S.), GNC, even Subways are shutting the doors in large batches across the country . The iconic brands dissolving across the nation not only pulls at the nostalgic heart strings of many, but sheds light on the shifting ideals of what it is to be a retailer in conjunction with progressive consumer habits or preferences. With the shopping demand surging through the internet, this has left many retailers to discover a massive decrease in sales over the past decade. Some retailers, such as Rue 21, a tween clothing store, even filing for chapter 11 before even experiencing significant financial trouble as a proactive measure that is likely an inevitable hardship tumbling their way.
Tech giant, Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, has forever changed the way modern shopping behavior is executed. Everything from groceries, digital books, electronics, clothes, school supplies, pet food, and more can be purchased and usually delivered between a few days and even hours, depending on the type of account a user has. The unfathomable convenience bit makes shopping on Amazon extremely attractive in that one can shop for anything, at any time, and have it delivered directly to their desired location. Inevitably, as Amazon popularity skyrockets, big box retailers suffer drastically, causing a wave in the economy and the way in which commercial real estate evaluates retail sectors .
With vacancy rates increasing in large shopping malls, the challenge of finding occupiers for big box spaces becomes evident. Throughout the U.S., stores previously occupied by, now-bankrupt, retailers are being converted into shared office space or restaurants. More than ever, mall owners are welcoming unconventional tenants to obtain some of the estimated 200 million square feet of retail space that has closed, or expected to do so since early 2017 .
“Landlords need to be creative, strategic and quick with their large-sized vacancies — the Silicon Valley has become a hotbed for small- to mid-sized retailers coming from all parts of the country to take advantage of our increased population density and disposable income. These large vacancies can be flipped into very lucrative, higher dollar-per-square-foot units with the right strategy in place.” explains Senior Vice President, CSR Commercial Real Estate Services, Jonathan Hanhan.
As countless big box stores remain vacant, the leaders in commercial real estate are challenged to think outside of the box (pun intended). Ginormous buildings with a naturally open layout, such as Macy’s department store, have been converted into movie theaters, music entertainment venues, and even sporting arenas . This new wave of occupancy bingo creates massive opportunity to get creative and move fast. In conjunction with the e-commerce craze, more of these spaces are being converted into warehousing units. In other areas, restaurants, fitness centers, and office space is taking over. Iconic Silicon Valley’s tech bubble creating crisis for local retailers with the rest of the nation not far behind.
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