Is this the End of American Shopping Malls?

Sheets of newspaper scratch along the dusty linoleum floor as the wind beats them into the remnants of a bench… or through the open glass door and into the darkened, empty space beyond.

Escalators haven’t run in decades. The air itself looks dusty.

Could this really be the future of the American mall?

Well… yes! It’s bad and it’s going to get worse, but I’m writing today to tell you it was totally predictable!

In fact, just like we forecast that Harley Davidson would suffer, so too did we forecast that retail stores would take it in the nuts as the Baby Boomers moved along their predictable spending wave!

Many “brick-and-motor” stores are suffering so much they’re shutting down.

Yes, the retail, brick-and-mortar, industry is suffering because there are too many stores… because online shopping is growing exponentially… and because shoppers are “moving toward experience…”

And yes, Amazon stock price broke the $1,000 mark at the end of May.

Investors still believe in the Trump magic wand of lower taxes and regulations that first, may not happen, and second will not be as big an impact as economists think because businesses are already over-expanded from the bubble boom and we are back at full employment with lower workforce growth ahead.

But there’s something so much bigger than all of these things going on, and everyone seems to be missing it!

Even the mainstream media is missing what’s right in front of their noses!

Two words: Baby Boomers.

All of these retail store closings and all of these bankruptcies were all baked into the cake when the massive Baby Boom generation peaked in its spending in late 2007.

Affluent households spend a lot on their kids and college education, until they’re about 51 years old, after which we see a dramatic drop-off in spending. For the U.S. Baby Boomer generation, this started in 2012 (on average).

Spending on apparel and related services, like dry cleaning, peaks into age 47, which means retailers would have begun feeling the pinch back in 2008.

And if you look at the numbers below, from the annual Consumer Expenditures Survey, that’s exactly when they started to struggle…

It’s no wonder that the major department stores that focus on clothing are declining!

We are seeing a historical movement in the retail industry to e-commerce.

Yes, online shopping has taken some of the pie, but for clothing retailers that’s not as much the case.

Think about it: You can’t judge the quality of a fabric or design online. You can’t try the outfit on to see how it looks or our comfortable it is.

So, as the Baby Boomers continue to age, clothing retail stores like Macy’s and JCPenny will only suck more and more wind! I’d hate to be in that industry.

But then there’s the death knell for malls and department stores: The rise of Amazon and the e-commerce sector. In this case, not only do demographics play a role, but so does technology. Look at the data below…

When you take out auto sales (that will eventually move to the Internet, just not yet), e-commerce has grown to a whopping 28% in early 2017.

And Amazon is now looking at both going into groceries and prescription drugs!

Malls are dead! And the clothing and discretionary food purchases were the last stronghold.

One thing is for sure, keep clothing retailers and malls out of your investment portfolios, unless you’re shorting them. In which case, John Del Vecchio, our resident short-seller, can help you.

In his latest bestseller, The Rule of 72the former Wall Street insider reveals what’s really going on, on Wall Street and explains how you can take advantage of different market conditions and uncover hidden stock profits. Get your free copy here!

Harry
Follow me on Twitter @harrydentjr

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Harry Dent
Harry S. Dent Jr. studied economics in college in the ’70s, but found it vague and inconclusive. He became so disillusioned by the state of his chosen profession that he turned his back on it. Instead, he threw himself into the burgeoning new science of finance where identifying and studying demographic, technological, consumer and many, many other trends empowered him to forecast economic changes. Since then, he’s spoken to executives, financial advisors and investors around the world. He’s appeared on “Good Morning America,” PBS, CNBC and CNN/Fox News. He’s been featured in Barron’s, Investor’s Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Fortune, Success, U.S. News and World Report, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, American Demographics and Omni. He is a regular guest on Fox Business’s “America’s Nightly Scorecard.” In his latest book, Zero Hour: Turn the Greatest Political and Financial Upheaval in Modern History to Your Advantage, Harry Dent reveals why the greatest social, economic, and political upheaval since the American Revolution is on our doorstep. Discover how its combined effects could cause stocks to crash as much as 80% beginning just weeks from now…crippling your wealth now and for the rest of your life. Harry arms you with the tools you need to financially prepare and survive as the world we know is turned upside down! Today, he uses the research he developed from years of hands-on business experience to offer readers a positive, easy-to-understand view of the economic future by heading up Dent Research, in his flagship newsletter, Boom & Bust.