Malls struggle as anchor stores close across the nation

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WAYNE, N.J. (CBS News) -- "Going out of business" sales begin next week at dozens of Toys "R" Us stores. The bankrupt retailer is closing one-fifth of its U.S. outlets, which could end up being more than 180 stores. A number of these are mall "anchor stores," or large retailers that attract customers to smaller stores nearby.

At the Lycoming Mall in central Pennsylvania, it's closing time for Sears, just like it was for its Macy's and JCPenney last year. Deena Miller has helped manage the mall for 30 years. She has seen the crowded corridors replaced by the scattered empty store spaces.
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Retail research firm Cushman & Wakefield reports major chains will close 11,000 stores this year, and predicts as many as 300 malls out of 1,100 may not exist in seven years.

The Wayne Hills, New Jersey, mall was once a vibrant shopping center. It's now set to be demolished. A Toys "R" Us across the way was one of the last stores standing, but it's one of the 180 that will be closing this year.

"In the age of e-commerce, you have to give consumers a reason to come to your mall and your store," said Garrick Brown, director of retail research for Cushman & Wakefield.

One major reason is the Amazon effect. With $178 billion in net sales, the company has revolutionized the way consumers shop online.

For Lycoming to survive, Deena Miller says it must become the center of the community, not just a shopping destination.

"You need to do something that draws the people out," said Miller.

Then, hopefully, their pocketbooks.