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Retailer Closure Announcements on Wane, ICSC says

Nearly 700 U.S. stores and restaurants announced closure plans during the fourth quarter. That figure may seem large, but it is a big improvement over the comparable period a year before. These 700 units comprise some 10.4 million square feet — 0.07 percent of the total inventory of U.S. retail space, according to a report by ICSC and PNC Financial Services Group.

Blockbuster and Talbots together accounted for 41 percent of announced store closings for the quarter, with a combined 282 units that comprised 1.7 million square feet — 17 percent of the total slated for closure.

The quarter’s closure announcements for GAFO (general merchandise, apparel, furniture and other) stores fell 53 percent from the year-ago quarter, and this was connected to a 3.3 percent increase in overall shopping center sales last year. In total, 5,572 stores closed last year: 5,170 GAFO stores, 246 grocery stores and 156 restaurants.

“Although the number of GAFO-type stores expected to close increased by 7.5 percent over 2009, there was marked improvement during the back half of the year as compared to 2009,” said Michael P. Niemira, ICSC’s chief economist and director of research. “It suggests that the severe contraction by retailers may be subsiding.”

This story is from the April 2011 issue of Shopping Centers Today

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