Westfield parent company planning to sell US malls

As JCPenney files for bankruptcy and Sears being all but out of business, a major shopping mall company is looking to sell off its U.S. properties.

A fiscal report from Westfield's parent company in France, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, mentioned its intention to sell U.S. malls. 

Back in September 2020, Westfield's Molly Unger showed FOX 11 the way its Culver City location was ready to welcome back shoppers. While the mall is back open, Westfield shopping malls across the country have not recover from their losses.

To those familiar with trends, the news of Westfield's parent company planning to sell American malls came off as no surprise, including commercial real estate agent Edmund Ha.

"It shouldn’t come as a surprise or shock to anyone," Ha said. "I think if you really look at it, how many people are really going to shopping malls? Even in the past five years.

Clearly, the way and where people are shopping has changed. E-commerce has taken a leap during the pandemic, while we're seeing fewer brick-and-mortar stores stick around.

"Department stores have been the bedrock of U.S. malls for decades and decades," said Vince Tobine of Green Street Advisors. "But starting -- let's say in 2015-2016 time period -- we started to see an acceleration of department store closures."

Prior to the pandemic, there were pushes to lure back shoppers, such as the multi-million dollar renovation at Westfield Century City.

"They were trying to redefine the shopping mall" Ha said. "The outdoor shopping experience, having more interactive centers and stations."

But fast-forward to 2021, Westfield is $32 billion in debt.

However, Tobin believes the shopping mall of the future will include more Nordstrom Rack-type stores but with fewer department stores.

"I think longer-term, mall owners are going to need to find ways to transform these traditional department stores into alternate uses," Tobin said.

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