Though the authors believed retail sales will rebound with malls back open, they worry it will be too little, too late for many storied retailers. The 14 largest department store and apparel brands take up almost 25% of mall space in the United States. The two biggest—Macy’s and J.C. Penney—inhabit more than 12%.
The Penney’s bankruptcy filing, therefore, looms as a sobering moment for mall operators. “While a bankruptcy filing does not always require the company to completely liquidate, it does typically lead to a reduction in the retailer's footprint,” they wrote.
J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Stage Stores are considering wide-ranging store closures and, should they come to pass, malls will bear the brunt of the damage. Nearly two-thirds of these chains’ space—some 75 million sq. ft.—is located within malls.