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Simon Property to Continue Transforming Former Sears Stores

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Simon Property Group Inc. (SPG - Free Report) is making every effort to boost its portfolio quality through substantial redevelopment program. Recently, the company announced the continuation of its plan to recapture former Sears locations across its portfolio, transforming those into retail, fitness, dining and entertainment hubs, and thereby drawing more traffic at these shopping destinations.

In fact, earlier in April, Simon Property announced the company’s transformational redevelopment plans for the former Sears stores, at five major locations. The properties included in the refurbishment plan were Brea Mall (Brea, CA), Burlington Mall (Burlington, MA), Midland Park Mall (Midland, TX), Ocean County Mall (Toms River, NJ) and Ross Park Mall (Pittsburgh, PA). Enhancements to the properties included entertainment, fitness, restaurants and dining pavilions, residential, as well as new retail brands.

Admittedly, a rapid shift in customers' shopping preferences to online channels has jeopardized the traffic flow in malls. In fact, with e-commerce grabbing market share from brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are compelled to reconsider their footprint and eventually opt for store closures, while others unable to cope with competition have been filing bankruptcies.

Amid these, tenants are also demanding substantial lease concessions, which, however, mall landlords find unjustified. Such an environment has cast a pall over retail REITs like Simon Property, GGP Inc. , Kimco Realty Corp. (KIM - Free Report) , Macerich Company (MAC - Free Report) , and others, and the companies’ share prices have been suffering for the past 12 months.

However, Simon Property is making every possible move to counter this challenging situation. The company is making heavy investments not only to elevate the value of its retail properties, but also for exploring mixed-use development option which has gained immense popularity in recent years.

Such developments lower the distance between housing, workplaces, retail businesses, and other amenities and destinations. Hence, such developments enable companies to grab the attention of people who prefer to live, work and play in the same area — a trend that drove development in several other cities in the United States.

Nevertheless, the implementation of such measures requires a decent upfront cost and therefore, would limit any robust growth in its near-term profit margins. Also, rate hike has added to its woes.

Simon Property has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The stock has slipped 2.1% over the past six months, which is narrower than the industry’s decline of 8.0%.

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