The battered U.S. retail market is likely to see more prominent bankruptcy filings and store closures in the first quarter of 2019, according to the top executive at America’s largest mall operator.
“There are some retailers out there that we’re nervous about. … We are concerned about a few [bankruptcies] that should shake out in Q1,” Simon Property Group CEO David Simon said Friday during an earnings call.
Some of the country’s top brick-and-mortar retailers have struggled to stay afloat in recent years amid dwindling customer traffic at stores and the rise of e-commerce competitors such as Amazon. Sears became the latest former industry juggernaut to file for bankruptcy last fall, joining the likes of Sports Authority and Toys R Us, which both went out of business in recent years. Others, such as JCPenney, have closed dozens of stores in a bid to cut costs fueling possible bankruptcy speculation, which the company has disputed to FOX Business.
The decline of physical retail comes amid unprecedented success for some e-commerce leaders. Amazon reported $232.9 billion in total revenue in fiscal 2018, marking the first time the digital retailer has surpassed the $200 billion barrier.
Simon did not specify which retailers his company believes to be in danger. However, he noted that Simon Property Group expects to see fewer bankruptcies in 2019 than in the previous two years.
“I think the retailers that are investing in their product, in their store experience, in their branding are having decent results. Physical retail can produce good results,” he said.