Never mind Bullock’s — Target is the future of dying malls

About twenty years ago there was an analysis of retail space per capita in the US. One conclusion was that it had increased five-fold from 1945 until about a half-century later. Now that doesn't sound like a bad thing, and may have just reflected a rising affluence. On the other hand, it meant that retailing was far less efficient, space-wise, than it had been earlier. There is good reason to think that growth of those regional malls and many, many community centers had built excessive space. We can probably assume that the growth and expansion of the "big box" operators since that study has exacerbated the situation. With all this on-line buying, that per capita space has to be at or near a peak, and will now decline. Centers of all sorts and sizes on the fringes of cities needed massive amounts of parking. Where the developers didn't provide "enough" of it, the city governments demanded huge amounts. A free standing retail store in most of this state was required to have about three times as much parking lot space as it did building floor space. Yet few ever filled their lots! Urban/suburban sprawl? That was one reason for it. Today I still hear of plans for developing property with more retail space, even when there is scads of vacant space on the same street a few blocks away. What are they thinking about, especially when the rents are so high that many otherwise-viable operations cannot afford them and still make a profit? The most recent bit of craziness was the proposal to build a mall in Carlsbad on the south shore of Agua Hedionda lagoon and put a Nordstrom there as the anchor. Just a couple miles to the north, the old regional mall is dying on the vine. I'd venture that Nordy's could have gotten a much better deal from Westfield to go take space in the old mall than Caruso was offering. Some intelligent, for a change, Carlsbad voters defeated that plan at the ballot box. If it had gone forward, it would meant that Nordstrom was trading a location in downtown SD for one in coastal No County. But I suspect that Nordy's is looking hard at the Escondido store because that center no longer resembles the place it was when it opened about thirty years ago. Escondido isn't getting richer; the opposite is the case.
— July 27, 2016 5:30 p.m.

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