Georgia’s largest mall is losing one of its biggest anchors, in what could be a sign of the impact of changes in the way consumers shop.
Seattle-based retailer Nordstrom said Wednesday it plans to pull out of the Mall of Georgia in February because sales failed to meet expectations.
The store, which opened in 2000 as the heavily-hyped Gwinnett mall attempted to capitalize on its mammoth size, will cease operations Feb. 28.
Metro Atlanta malls have struggled as consumers increasingly shop online or show more interest in outlet centers and “walkable” lifestyle retail destinations such as Buckhead Atlanta or the newly opened Avalon. The disappearance of anchor stores such as Parisian and Rich’s also have hurt the market.
“In general, about one-third of enclosed malls are doing very well, about one-third are maintaining, and one-third are dead or dying,” said Ellen Dunham-Jones, a Georgia Tech professor of architecture and urban design who has studied the industry.
Mall of Georgia owner Simon Property Group was sanguine: “As Simon has demonstrated so often in the past, we see this as an opportunity to re-tenant in a way that is more attractive to our loyal Mall of Georgia customers.”
Nordstrom said its 174 non-seasonal Mall of Georgia-store workers will be offered opportunities at its Phipps Plaza or Perimeter stores or at its four Nordstrom Rack locations. Those who don’t find jobs at other Nordstrom locations will receive a severance package.
A big challenge for malls has been millennials. That group — roughly ages 18 to 34 — are not as interested as past generations in malls, according to studies.
“Millennials appear to be defining themselves more by their technology and their tech accessories than by their wardrobes,” analysts at Morningstar Equity Research said in a recent report. “Their interests have also shifted from hanging out and shopping in malls to social networking, music and exploring the restaurant scene.”
To survive, malls like Greenbriar and Gwinnett Place have added non-traditional tenants such as Emory Dialysis and Mega Mart. Others, such as Union Station (formerly Shannon Mall), have closed altogether for new uses. Union City officials said Monday that Union Station will be razed and replaced with a movie studio and a 1.1 million-square-foot distribution center.
Without Nordstrom, the Mall of Georgia still has major anchor tenants in Macy’s, Dilliard’s, JCPenney and Belk.
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