— It’s no secret that malls have their fair share of problems, from bad signage to parking, but it seems there’s no such thing as a bad mall.
In fact, a new report by the non-profit advocacy group Fairness to Mall owners paints a picture of some of the biggest threats facing malls.
The report, released Tuesday by Fairness and the National Mall Association, looked at the impact of rising costs and rising rents, as well as what it calls the “unnecessarily high number of unplanned or overpriced retail locations.”
The report found that the cost of a typical mall can increase by up to 3.7 percent over the past 10 years and that it takes nearly a year for new businesses to get established, and that the average rent for a typical store is now more than double the amount it was in 2008.
It also found that, for every 1,000 square feet of retail space, the average store owner spends $1,500 in maintenance and rent, or $15,000 per year.
“We’re spending more than ever on building the space that we need, but we’re also spending less and less,” said Linda Burden, executive director of Fairness.
“The average store’s budget now is $5,000 to $10,000,” she said.
“In the past, when we had to make changes, we could save a lot of money on our budgets.
Now we’re spending our money in the wrong places.”
The group said it found that for every dollar spent on infrastructure, about $7 is returned to the economy, with more than a third going toward infrastructure costs.
A survey conducted by the Mall Association in January found that just 1 in 4 shoppers were satisfied with the shopping experience of malls, and they cited many factors for why.
Some of the reasons cited include parking, security, and proximity to the highway.
Another study by the group, conducted last year, found that many malls have higher than average traffic volumes.
According to the report, the number of people per square foot in malls is rising rapidly, and it has increased more than 400 percent since 1980.
Mall owners and their associations are fighting back, and many of the issues are being addressed by state lawmakers.
Fairness said it is not surprised that malls are experiencing high costs.
“There are many other ways malls are getting paid for it.
You have the mall operators making the profits, and there’s also the cost to the taxpayers of maintaining and operating a mall,” Burden said.
At the end of the day, she said, “there’s a lot more work that needs to be done to get more malls in the right places.”
Fairness has a website where mall owners can view information about how to plan for their buildings, including how to increase security, increase traffic and increase the number and size of retail spaces.
And the group is encouraging retailers to contact the state government and ask for help to meet the mall’s needs, Burden added.