Economic conditions help minimize the impact of closing Sears' businesses

Economic conditions help minimize the impact of closing Sears' businesses

Sears has announced it will close a third location in the region – this time in Piqua – and three shopping malls with huge, empty retail space.

The Springfield Sears will remain the only Sears Holdings location in the region when business is scheduled to close at the Miami Valley Center in Piqua in February. The Dayton Mall Store will be closed on November 25, and the Beavercreek Mall at Fairfield Commons will close sometime in December.

The closures of Sears follow on Elder-Beerman closing its large department stores in the same shopping centers in August.

While Sears Holdings, which also includes Kmart, has been closing branches for years, it recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late October. The company has announced the closure of 228 stores this summer.

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While the closures will cost the region hundreds of jobs, the current economy is helping to minimize its impact on low unemployment and rising consumer spending.

"It's never nice to lose a job, but it's true that there are currently many job opportunities, and people should be sure to find a job," said Michael Lipsitz, economics professor at The Fisher School of Business, Miami University ,

The greater concern is when sales from the bankrupt Sears are not transferred to other retailers in the Miami Valley, but to online retailers, which would eventually lead to expenses outside the region. This could lead to tax consequences without the money flowing through the local governments and the workers being less unemployed immediately after Sears closure, Lipsitz said.

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"You may only think of a movement of money rather than a loss," he said. "But it could look like a loss for Ohio."

But there is an advantage.

"There is a sense that Sears' business model was not working anymore," he said. "Hopefully this will be replaced by business models that are better for our community."

This business model could include a stronger focus on e-commerce, which is shaping the current trading landscape. Ideally, this new business model will find a way to work locally, Lipsitz said.

It could also include experiences that are becoming more prevalent in outdoor and indoor shopping centers as consumers' shopping habits change.

"(The Piqua Mall) has some unique opportunities to bring something unique and entertaining," said Tim Echemann, director of Industrial Property Brokers in Piqua.

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Beavercreek's Mall at Fairfield Commons has been successful with the entertainment concept and plans to divide the Sears room into the Round 1 entertainment concept and The Room Place furniture store. But the Dayton Mall is still working on plans to fill its place. The Elder Beerman rooms in all three shopping malls are also empty.

"In anticipation of this happening, we have been working with some potential tenants for some time. Sears' problems are well known and this closure was expected, "said Bill Staebler, director of retail development for Mid-America, owner of the Miami Valley Center Mall.

Both the 100,000-square-foot Sears location and the Elder-Beerman box at Piqua Mall would have attracted interest from several parties, he said. However, it is unlikely that the public will see movement in the space for a few months, as Sears is not expected to close before February and retailers are stalling their expansion while focusing on selling vacations.

"These are difficult times in retail, we all understand that," said Staebler. "But we have owned the mall for 25 years and will stick to it. We like the location, we like Piqua, we like the market. "

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He said Piqua was particularly attractive for his hotel, the car park and the location from Interstate 75.

And Piqua is in a thriving part of the state for a mall, even though it's rural, said Tim Echemann, director at Industrial Property Brokers in Piqua. It's the right distance from Dayton to have a steady stream of customers, especially with the growth of nearby Troy, and far enough away that residents would rather stay in the community than travel to Beavercreek or Miami Twp.

"The other thing that really goes in their favor is that the economy is having elections and what's happening, we will not see any big changes in the economy and it's going to be so strong at the moment that there's never a better time for one Landing gave an opportunity for the room there. "


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