Mall owners want to bar Sears from hanging ‘going out of business’ signs outside closing stores as the industry weathers a crisis
Written by Joshua Stuart on October 23, 2018
By Mary Hanbury
Mall owners are asking a New York bankruptcy court to crack down on Sears’ “going out of business” signs in an attempt to curb the impact of the retailer’s downfall.
In a recent court filing, a group of landlords laid out their requests for Sears’ upcoming store cloures in 12 of their malls.
The mall owners requested that the court limit the size, wording, and style of its closing-down sale signs.
“A store closing sale or liquidation detrimentally impacts the Centers, as well as the surrounding individual tenants,” the mall owners said in the court filing.
“Shopping center tenants bargain for a certain environment as part of their decision to lease space in the Centers, and all tenants agree to abide by similar rules regarding sales and signage to protect this environment.”
The five landlords – The Macerich Company, Centennial Real Estate, C.E. Johns Company, Brixmor Operating Partnership, and S-Tract LLC – which jointly filed the objection on Monday, said that terms such as “going out of business” or “total liquidation sale” are confusing to mall shoppers and shouldn’t be used.
They also requested that signs that say “court-ordered sale,” “bankruptcy sale,” “Chapter 11 sale,” “everything must go,” or “lost our lease,” should be banned along with any loud advertising of the sales, such as balloons, sandwich boards, leaflets, or flashing lights.
“Landlords have a primary interest in maintaining an aesthetic appearance in the shopping centers for the benefit of all tenants, especially during the holiday season,” the court filing said. “Signage limitations are critical to maintaining the desired appearance and environment and reasonably restrict any store closing sale.”
Sears is closing 142 stores before the end of the year. These store closings will likely have a detrimental impact on the malls in which they are located, especially in cases where Sears acts as the anchor store.
A report done by Credit Suisse in 2017 estimated that 20-25% of malls would shutter over the next five years, largely because of store closures that are taking place across the retail sector.
Read the landlords’ objection here.
Related video: Why seeing Sears stores close hurts hearts (provided by USA Today)