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News Link • Economy - Economics USA

Commercial Real Estate: "Ghost Malls" in the Making?

As I drive down nice streets in nice parts of town, I see reminders of the boom that was. Yes, there they are -- handsomely constructed strip malls, still looking quite new. Yet they also look like "ghost malls." In the absence of customers, all that's missing to complete the scene are a few tumbleweeds to blow across virtually empty parking lots. The statistics in this excerpted article confirmed my own observations: "In the wake of the still-lingering economic downturn, vacancy rates at shopping centers — of both the "classic mall" and "strip mall" varieties — are at their highest levels since the twentieth century. "The Wall Street Journal reports on new figures that show a 9.1% average vacancy rate in malls in the top 80 U.S. markets, and 11.1% for strip malls." (4/7) And many of the stores that are open appear to have few patrons. The commercial real estate market peaked in 2007. This chart from the October 2010 Elliott Wave Theorist shows the still-unfolding trend:

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