The ICSC Blog

Don’t count department stores out, GGP chief says


Write no obituaries for JCPenney or Sears just yet, General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani advised his listeners at an SCTLive forum in New York City last Friday. “People forget, Americans still shop at Sears,” he said. Indeed, at $40 billion in 2012, Sears’ sales dwarf those of many prominent retailers, he noted, including Macy’s ($28 billion), Penney ($13 billion), Dillard’s ($6.8 billion) and Belk ($4 billion). Sears is in the vanguard of retailers developing an online model, drawing on its own experience as a catalog retailer, Mathrani said. He also cautioned against underestimating the capabilities of Sears Chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert. Penney, too, will remain on the retail landscape, Mathrani predicts. “They could have more finance issues, but we think Penney will still be part of the retail fabric,” he said.

Nor has the vacating of the big-box spaces of Penney, Sears and others posed a problem for General Growth, Mathrani noted. Of the 76 empty boxes the firm had across its portfolio in 2011, only two remain vacant today, he said.Write no obituaries for JCPenney or Sears just yet, General Growth Properties CEO Sandeep Mathrani advised his listeners at an SCTLive forum in New York City last Friday. “People forget, Americans still shop at Sears,” he said. Indeed, at $40 billion in 2012, Sears’ sales dwarf those of many prominent retailers, he noted, including Macy’s ($28 billion), Penney ($13 billion), Dillard’s ($6.8 billion) and Belk ($4 billion). Sears is in the vanguard of retailers developing an online model, drawing on its own experience as a catalog retailer, Mathrani said. He also cautioned against underestimating the capabilities of Sears Chairman and CEO Edward S. Lampert. Penney, too, will remain on the retail landscape, Mathrani predicts. “They could have more finance issues, but we think Penney will still be part of the retail fabric,” he said.

Mathrani questioned the threat from online sales, asserting that Internet retail is a greater challenge to catalog retailers than to brick-and-mortar stores. Malls and stores have a vital role to play in the Internet retail revolution, Mathrani said, pointing to the large proportion of shoppers that embrace omni-channel retail by opting to pick up online purchases at stores. Moreover, he said, online retailers seem to be discovering that they need to open conventional stores to survive; General Growth has staff people scouring the web for promising online retail candidates for mall stores.

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