“Internet Killed The Radio Store” – Mall Vacancies Hit All Time Record
by Tyler Durden
Two years ago, when discussing the long-term prospects for Bill Ackman’s aggressive pursuit of General Growth, we noted that while the short-term post-reorg oversold bounce is warranted, the secular shift away from big-box stores and disappearance of retailers means that many more bankruptcies are sure to follow, and will be punctuated by all time highs in mall vacancies courtesy of an ever-growing shift to internet shopping. So while the incremental bankruptcies in commercial REITs have been slow in coming primarily due to record low interest rates, the mall vacancy number just hit a new all time high. According to Bloomberg Brief: “In 1979 the one-hit wonder Buggles sang “Video killed the Radio Star.” Several economic indicators suggest it’s time for a Buggles revival: “Internet Killed the Radio Store.” The popularity of Internet shopping is having a considerable impact on the retail landscape; mall vacancies are at the highest level in measured history, big box stores are looking to reduce their footprints, and those selling book, electronics, and sporting goods are closing. During the third quarter, vacancies at regional and super-regional malls rose to 9.4 percent from 8.8 percent a year earlier and 9.3 percent in the second quarter, according to the New York-based property research company Reis. This was the highest since data was compiled in 2000.” In other words, in addition to the Fed, REITs are the next entity class to have gone all in on interest rates never going up: because without organic upside growth, the only marginal benefit is from continues interest benefits. Once those end, it is game over, first on the margin, and then literally.