Online sales may bring holiday fear for some U.S. malls

Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:44pm EST
 
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By Ilaina Jonas

NEW YORK (Reuters) - When it comes to the internet, David Simon's kids can look but not buy.

"They are not allowed to shop on the Internet or I won't pay for their room or board," Chief Executive and Chairman of Simon Property Group Inc, the largest U.S. owner of malls and outlet centers joked at a the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts investor forum in June.

Although his kids and their generation still go to the mall, Simon worries what the habits of his grandchildren will be.

If online sales continue to grow and take away a bigger and bigger slice of the U.S. consumer spending pie, the future doesn't look good for some malls. Yet in a weird twist, it looks brighter for others.

Last week's starting gun for holiday shopping speaks volumes.

For the first time, online sales could account for more than 10 percent of holiday sales this year, according to Scot Wingo, chief executive of ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell more on websites, including Amazon.com and eBay.com.

Online sales on Cyber Monday jumped 30.3 percent, according to International Business Machines Corp, which analyzes transactions for 500 U.S. retailers. Even more threatening are the sales from pure online retailers.

For the five-day period from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, client sales on eBay.com rose 38.3 percent compared with the same days in 2011, according to ChannelAdvisor, which helps merchants sell online. Sales at Amazon.com jumped 37.7 percent.   Continued...

 
Shoppers look over items on sale at a Macy's store in New York, November 23, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford