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The Slow Death of Sears Is a Crisis for Struggling Malls—and an Opportunity

  • Many Sears overlap with other struggling department stores
  • Owners say closed department stores will lead to higher rents
Thousands Of Malls Across U.S. Threatened As Retail Stores Pull Out

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Once upon a time, shoppers at the great American malls bounced from Sears to Bon-Ton to Borders Books and Circuit City, stopping along the way at all the smaller stores in between. Now the anchor model, which relied on big-box retailers to drive traffic, is fading.

Sears Holding Corp. filed for Chapter 11 protection on Oct. 15, saying it will close 77 of its namesake stores in the next few months. Already, 24 percent of those shopping centers have at least one vacant anchor of at least 25,000 square feet, according to CoStar Group Inc.