Former Macy's (Bamberger's) at Owings Mills Mall in Baltimore. The Macy's at the mall consolidated into Hecht's location at the mall in 2006 only to close a decade later with the mall.
This round of closings includes largely owned vs. leased stores that have no external motivation (such as lease expiration) to drive their closure. In other words, this is unfortunately the climax of years of fears and threats about the health of the nation's malls driving a spike into many more malls that have been on the brink for years. In fact, many of these malls have been surviving due to Macy's alone with no other suitable anchor in the mall able to draw traffic and no other anchors available to fill the void that a Macy's closure will leave behind.
The reality of this is not a surprise as Macy's has a large collection of run down, unrenovated, marginal stores that long since outlived their use as a superregional store. A walk into these stores will reveal that little has been done since Macy's consolidated the nameplates of these stores over the past 30 years. Most of these stores were built in smaller, older malls that were not so much superregional malls, but were more larger neighborhood malls that had the population and income large enough to sustain them until recently. Others were larger malls that have since fallen on hard times and likely already have lost other major anchors such as Sears, JCPenney, Bon-Ton, Boscov's or Belk. The days of having so many malls competing in one major market are over, and this list speculates on the potential store closings in the states that Sky City covers with an explanation of each and why. Keep in mind that just because a prediction is made does not mean it is a closing store, but that any store on this list is very likely to close in coming years. This list will be compared to the official list after the list is announced soon.
States covered here are Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Eastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey. Even though Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, West Virginia and other parts of the Mid-Atlantic are within the scope of the blog, the author does not have adequate knowledge of those markets to make an assessment here. In addition, Mississippi does not have any Macy's locations. However, categories will be added if further information becomes available.
This post divides stores into three categories:
1. Definitely Closing - This means the store is in a dying or dead mall that has little chance of recovering or is in a market that is too poor to adequately support the store. If it does not close this year, it will most likely close next year. Usually the store is old and in disrepair. This also almost certainly refers to off-mall locations, especially downtown stores with exception to the New York City flagship.
2. Likely Closing - This means the store is in a struggling mall, is not well positioned in the market or too close to a competing store. Store does not necessarily have to be in a dead mall, but most likely it is in a B-level mall. This category also describes Macy's stores that duplicate in the same mall and may be downsized into a single store, which usually only occurs in B-level malls.
3. Possibly Closing - This means that it is in a weak market for the store typically unrelated to the mall itself, but the store may be marginally profitable. This might also a mean it is a store in an A-level mall with too many competing anchors who tend to be the preferred option in that market (e.g. Dillard's, Belk, Bon-Ton).
LIKELY CLOSING: Brookwood Mall - Mountain Brook (Opened 1975)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Riverchase Galleria - Hoover (Opened 1986)
FUTURE PROSPECTS: Belk has been sold to a private equity firm who may ultimately spin off assets in weaker markets for the chain. Belk has not done particularly well in Alabama, and Macy's may return to the state by cherry picking the best locations that Belk has currently such as Bridge Street Town Center in Huntsville, Belair Mall in Mobile and The Summit in Mountain Brook.
Georgia is likely going to be nasty in terms of closing in this round. Macy's inherited a ton of stores due to prior ownership of prominent department stores Rich's and Davison's. Unfortunately, large parts of the state's economy continue to flounder and much of these locations are in weak urban malls whose sole survival depends on Macy's continued commitment to those malls. Macy's already closed a store this year at North DeKalb Mall in Atlanta effectively finishing off a 50 year old mall as part of the mall's redevelopment plan. The list below is long.
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Gwinnett Place Mall - Duluth (Opened 1984)
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Southlake Mall - Morrow (Opened 1976)
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Macon Mall - Macon (Opened 1975)
LIKELY CLOSING: South DeKalb Mall - Decatur (Opened 1969)
LIKELY CLOSING: Greenbriar Mall - Atlanta (Opened 1965)
LIKELY CLOSING: Town Center at Cobb [Consolidation to Single Location] (Opened 1986; reopened 2003)
In 2005, the former Macy's was largely vacant with only part of the second floor used for a furniture gallery. Today it has the men's store on the lower floor and clearance on third floor.
LIKELY CLOSING: Peachtree Mall - Columbus (Opened 2002)
LIKELY CLOSING: Georgia Square Mall - Athens (1981)
LIKELY CLOSING: Oglethorpe Mall - Savannah (Opened 1992)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Cumberland Mall - Smyrna (Opened 1973)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Stonecrest Mall - Lithonia (Opened 2001)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Northlake Mall - Tucker (Opened 1971)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Arbor Place Mall - Douglasville (Opened 2004)
FUTURE PROSPECTS: Macy's may return to some of these markets, but probably not organically. Most likely they will take over anchor spaces in existing newer centers in better areas than these stores are located. In Atlanta, stores north of I-20 that close are unlikely to be replaced, but new stores as buyouts may pop up in places like McDonough, Newnan or Peachtree City where incomes are higher. Macy's might also take over Belk or Dillard's stores if either decide to leave the market. In Macon, this would involve a takeover of the existing Belk or Dillard's at the Shoppes at River Crossing.
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Columbia Place Mall - Dentsville (Opened 1977)
Macy's has been lukewarm in their commitment to the Columbia market for years as Rich's only opened one store in the market and the downtown Davison's store was not replaced with the planned, but never built store at Dutch Square Mall. The one remaining location at Columbia Place Mall anchors a mostly dead mall that is anchored with a barely-open Sears (a large part of the store is closed off) and a Burlington Coat Factory in one level of the former JCPenney. The fourth anchor, Dillard's (former Belk) remains vacant and in disrepair. The store itself has seen few, if any, updates and was never a strong performer when it was part of Rich's. The closing of this store will only leave one Macy's in the state in Haywood Mall in Greenville.
North Carolina saw the bulk of weaker Macy's stores close recently, but Macy's has always struggled in the state due to the prominence of Belk vs. other states where Belk is less popular or unknown. Belk started in North Carolina and has brand loyalty over other mid-market department stores unlike most states similar to how Boscov's dominates in its sector in Eastern Pennsylvania. As long as Belk continues to dominate, Macy's presence in the state will be weak, but the future of Belk as a company will determine the final outcome. Regardless, three stores appear to be weak in the market.
LIKELY CLOSING: Northgate Mall - Durham (Opened 1995)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: SouthPark Mall - Charlotte (Opened 1986)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Friendly Center - Greensboro (Opened 1957)
FUTURE PROSPECTS: Macy's will not return to any of these markets unless Belk decides to sell their own (better located) stores to Macy's in the future. This all rests on the future of Belk as a company since it is now owned by an equity firm and no longer managed by the Belk family.
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Old Hickory Mall - Jackson (1978)
The Macy's at Old Hickory Mall is an anomaly that came directly as a result of it originally opening as Memphis-based Goldsmith's. A higher than average poverty rate in a more urban-oriented mall position the mall similar to failed Macy's locations in other former Goldsmith's in Memphis such as at Raleigh Springs Mall or Southland Mall. While not a dead mall nor in an area with any other immediate competition from other Macy's, it is a small mall that probably does not provide the sales-per-square-feet or image that Macy's desires. The store also competes with Belk in the same mall.
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Rivergate Mall - Goodlettsville (1971)
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Roosevelt Mall - Philadelphia (1964)
LIKELY CLOSING: Center City Philadelphia (1911)
The closing of the Center City store is very likely considering the glut of Macy's stores in the market and the closing of the former Kauffman's flagship in Pittsburgh last year. This store is the very grand former Wanamaker's flagship, but it has suffered under the decline of downtown department stores in general and the fact that the store itself changed many hands after the Wanamaker family shut down the business. This is one "likely" on the list that we wish was not.
LIKELY CLOSING: Plymouth Meeting Mall - Plymouth Meeting (1966)
LIKELY CLOSING: Springfield Mall - Springfield (1974)
Springfield Mall is a small ancillary mall too close to many other dominant malls in the market including Concord Mall in Delaware and King Of Prussia. While conveniently located, the mall only has one other anchor (Target) and does not appear to be a significant draw. Originally opening as Bamberger's, the store remains as a legacy of the once dominant regional department store owned by R.H. Macy.
LIKELY CLOSING: Oxford Valley Mall - Langhorne (1973)
LIKELY CLOSING: Montgomery Mall - Montgomeryville (1977)
Montgomery Mall is one of those candidates for eventual demalling as one of its major department store anchors proved impossible to keep filled after Boscov's exited a former Wanamaker's in 2008. Today that store is Wegman's. While Wegman's is indeed a huge draw, it is a draw itself not so much a draw to the mall. The rumor is that the Macy's at the mall is not doing well, and that obviously makes sense considering that the mall is too close in proximity to wildly successful Willow Grove Park Mall and King of Prussia Mall, both far more of a draw than this lackluster mall. Considering that the average mall needs a 25 mile radius between malls, having both malls 10 and 14 miles away, respectively, is not likely to keep the store open for long.
LIKELY CLOSING: Viewmont Mall - Scranton (1968)
As Scranton's only mall, Viewmont Mall is a second-tier mall to the more dominant Wyoming Valley Mall, which also contains Macy's. Considering that Sears already closed at the mall, the mall only has 70 stores and the only other anchors are Dick's and JCPenney, Macy's may be looking at an exit strategy.
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Exton Square Mall - Exton (1973)
LIKELY CLOSING: Dover Mall - Dover (1982)
The Macy's at Dover Mall's troubles have been a bit mysterious, but the likely scenario is that people drive the 40 mile trip to Christiana Mall for better merchandise. The Macy's at the mall is a low performer, and it was a latecomer as it was taking over the spot of a former Leggett department store that previously had been the only location in the state. The store became Macy's as a result of Leggett divesting the store in 1997 with Strawbridge's taking over.
DEFINITELY CLOSING: River Ridge Mall - Lynchburg (Opened 1978)
A legacy Thalhimer's and later Hecht's, this store anchors an otherwise dying mall and is clearly a weaker player from the total lack of investment in the store. It has seen little updates since the 1970's, and has seen no updates since the merger with May Company in 2006. The mall itself saw the loss of Sears a few years ago, and the mall is today owned by Liberty University. The mall is still anchored by Belk and JCPenney, but that is probably not enough to save the store. Most shoppers make the journey west to Roanoke or east to Richmond for serious shopping as evidenced by the troubled state of the mall.
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Landmark Mall - Alexandria (Opened 1965)
LIKELY CLOSING: Fair Oaks Mall - Fairfax [Consolidation to Single Location] (Opened 2000)
The real retail mystery is how Macy's has continued to operate two full-line stores at this mall. As a high-level B mall, Fair Oaks is beginning to show signs of its age with Tysons Corner continuing to suck life out of the mall. Macy's operates two stores in the mall because the original Macy's was owned by Federated Department Stores and the second by May Department Stores (as Hecht's) and since the 2006 merger has apparently been unable to exit either store. The most likely store to close is the Macy's that opened in the mid-1990's on what had originally been the Lord & Taylor anchor site leaving the former Hecht's. This is likely a strategic move as plans are already under consideration to redevelop the adjacent Sears site meaning that the west end of the mall will be redeveloped.
The Macy's at Ballston Common Mall is the former flagship store for Hecht's, which means that the closing of this store will be very sad considering that it has operated for more than 60 years. However, the difficulty in accessing the mall and extreme competition from more popular Pentagon City and Tysons Corner Macy's locations pretty much doom this store. The mall is beginning the process of redevelopment, and a second Macy's in the mall already closed recently. This gives the marginal store an easy exit strategy, but the loss will mean another once storied department store will lose its original downtown flagship.
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Marlow Heights Shopping Center - Marlow Heights (1960)
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Security Square Mall - Woodlawn (1982)
LIKELY CLOSING: Lakeforest Mall - Gaithersburg (1978)
A struggling mall originally built by Taubman, this mall has failed to capture the bulk of shoppers in the region who choose instead to shop at Montgomery Mall, Wheaton Plaza or Tysons Corner across the river in Virginia. While the mall has held onto its anchors thus far, the mall caters to an increasingly urban demographic with major chain stores fleeing the mall. In its place are B-level tenants who are likely to lead to an exodus of the anchors soon, most likely starting with Macy's.
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Mall at Prince Georges - Hyattsville (1958)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Bowie Town Center (2001)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: Marley Station Mall - Glen Burnie (1987)
POSSIBLY CLOSING: The Centre At Salisbury - Salisbury (1991)
NEW JERSEY (SOUTHERN)
DEFINITELY CLOSING: Voorhees Town Center (Echelon Mall) - Voorhees (Opened 1973)
This one shouldn't be a surprise to anyone considering that half the mall was already redeveloped with the other half dead today. The remaining anchors at the former Echelon Mall today include an unrenovated and partially closed (fourth floor) Strawbridge's with Boscov's as the other anchor. The interior of the mall is full of vacancies and empty of customers. Macy's hung on to try the redevelopment (as Strawbridge's), but their commitment to a poorly located mall so close to Cherry Hill Mall (8 miles) and Deptford Mall (6 miles!), the need for this store is just not there.______________________________
The above should be viewed as speculative and not factual. None of these stores listed are actually known in regards to their status until the official list comes out.