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Simon Property Extends Online Return Services to 52 Centers

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Simon Property Group, Inc. (SPG - Free Report) has announced the expansion of online return services available at its malls to several other locations. The presence of the Happy Returns service at the participating centers will enable an increasing number of customers to return and exchange purchases made online at malls where Simon Guest Services is available.

Simon Property signed up for the program in 2017 at five of its properties in a bid to attract online purchasers back into brick-and mortar retailing, before recently expanding these services to 52 locations. With this, the company has the largest network of Return Bar counters in the shopping-center industry.

Using Happy Returns’ services, shoppers will be able to return online purchases made from select retailers to the Simon Guest Services desk, with an immediate credit. Hence, customers can omit the lengthy return process of packing and shipping items. Moreover, refunds can be made faster.

While customers can experience an easy return process, it also provides them an opportunity to find what they need at Simon Property’s retail centers. Notably, there is a high probability of shoppers making returns to make additional purchases from malls, the expansion of the service is a strategic fit to drive traffic through online returns.

Notably, the e-commerce boom has been grabbing market share from brick-and-mortar retailing with online purchasing becoming the latest favorite shopping channel. This has compelled retailers to reconsider their footprint and eventually opt for store closures, and file for bankruptcies if unable to cope with competition. Also, amid these, tenants are demanding substantial lease concessions, which retail landlords find unjustified. This turbulent environment has wreaked havoc for retail REITs like Simon Property, The Macerich Company (MAC - Free Report) , Taubman Centers (TCO - Free Report) and Kimco Realty Corporation (KIM - Free Report) , among others.

In fact, over the past year, shares of Simon Property have declined 14.6%, as against the industry’s rally of 8.3%.

Nonetheless, amid this retail apocalypse narrative, Simon Property has made prudent moves to maximize the value of these properties. The company has resorted to adoption of an omni-channel strategy and successful tie-ups with premium retailers, thereby aiming higher customer satisfaction and greater footfall at its malls. 

The retail REIT has also been actively restructuring its portfolio, undertaking transformation measures of the traditional retail hubs into entertainment destinations and lifestyle resorts. Moreover, recently Simon Property announced that the Mall of Georgia in Buford, GA, will serve as its first joint e-sports venue, as part of an alliance announced last June with Allied Esports, a global esports entertainment company. (Read more: Simon Property to Offer Esports Experience at Mall of Georgia)

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

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