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Lauren Leach: Deep into the holiday season, 5-month-old Norfolk outlet mall has many empty storefronts – The Virginia Pilot

Lauren Leach was quoted in The Virginia Pilot‘s article titled “Deep into the holiday season, 5-month-old Norfolk outlet mall has many empty storefronts.”

The Norfolk property has a fair amount of mom-and-pop-type tenants, observes Lauren Leach, real estate director at the Michigan-based Conway MacKenzie consulting firm, contributing to a disparate mix of high- and low-end stores.

The litmus of whether Simon eventually will sign some of the missing brands is how healthy the other stores’ sales-per-square-foot are after a full year. Smart retailers – even those that aren’t in trouble – are putting on the brakes to take a closer look at their balance sheets and make sure they haven’t grown too fast, Leach said.

“The timing is just bad for an outlet to open in this environment, when all of the retailers aren’t ready to commit to anything,” she said. “In 2018, when all of the hype has calmed down, they may be ready.”

Another test might be how well cars are flowing into the parking lot. If during a site visit, retailer scouts have trouble getting in and out, she said, that could influence their decision. Many motorists already complain about Northampton Boulevard traffic, and it’s unclear how the nearby Ikea coming in 2019 will impact congestion.

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