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Retailers are selling off their real estate to survive

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) It’s no secret that retailers have struggled, and those that intend on surviving are looking to their most valuable assets to get creative with.

retailers

With brick-and-mortar sales plummeting and more and more customers shopping online, retailers nationwide are laying off employees, shutting down stores, and desperately trying to adapt to changing conditions.

Department stores in particular are hurting. Decades ago, when department stores were having a heyday and browsing a huge inventory was a novelty experience, many companies like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Sears bought or built enormous stores in prime locations.

Now, these companies are having a hard time moving inventory – but they sure do have some lucrative real estate. Many are leasing out parts of their stores to smaller retailers or as office space to startups and tech companies. Some are creating partnerships to share their store space. And some are simply selling these properties all together. Is this a savvy strategy for generating capital? Or the desperation tactics for sinking ships?

The number of companies selling some of their most noteworthy stores certainly gives credibility to what people are calling the “retail apocalypse.” In the past few years, Macy’s, who laid off 10,000 employees this year, has sold stores in San Francisco, Portland, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis. Sears began selling real estate two years ago, and many J.C. Penney locations have also closed down.

Hudson’s Bay Company, which owns Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue, recently announced that they would sell their Fifth Avenue building in Manhattan to tech startup WeWork for $850 million. Lord & Taylor will then lease one or two floors from WeWork, who will use the rest of the building for their offices. Hudson’s Bay Company is also looking to sell another department store in Vancouver.

According to Garrick Brown, director of retail research for real estate broker Cushman & Wakefield, “some department store companies have real estate holdings that are move valuable than the retail business itself.” He says that some department stores are “getting choked” because they can’t face the facts that their giant locations are unnecessary and costly.

So while some companies, like Sears, may have waited until it was too late to make a last-ditch effort at selling their real estate, others may be selling or leasing their store locations as the next step towards the innovations they’ll need to survive.

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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