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Non-Traditional Anchors: Cheers or Jeers for Those Replacing Sears?

Caroline Wu
Jan 27, 2023
Non-Traditional Anchors:  Cheers or Jeers for Those Replacing Sears?

Sears was once the largest retailer in the U.S. and operated throughout the country. In 2018, it filed for bankruptcy and needed to begin selling off the locations that still remained (the map below shows Sears and Kmart stores as of 2018).

US map of Sears and Kmart stores as of 2018

Developers have been creative with replacements for empty Sears boxes. In some cases, the new tenant has attracted even more foot traffic than when the location was a Sears. Case in point is at Broadmoor Town Centre in Colorado Springs.  The Sears closed in May 2019 and was vacant for a while before Magnum Shooting Center opened the day after Thanksgiving 2020.  We looked at a 24-week period for both tenants (full year 2017-2018 for Sears and full-year 2021-2022 for Magnum).  Results show that foot traffic at Magnum has generally been higher.

Visitors to the Magnum-occupied space come more frequently, and dwell time is nearly twice as long.

Weekends are particularly attractive times to clients visiting Magnum Shooting Center.

At another property--Silverlake Mall in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho--a Sears box was replaced by Planet Fitness. The shift has been astounding as Sears patrons normally visited about 2 times compared to a Planet Fitness patron’s 13 times (which also reinforces some of our positive views on the health of the fitness club space).

Based on ranking, the Sears location was in the bottom 5%, whereas when it changed to a Planet Fitness, it ranked in the 93rd percentile.   We saw similar patterns of increased foot traffic when a Sears converted to a Life Time Fitness in Peabody, MA.

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Caroline Wu

Director of Research,

Caroline brings expertise in retail, CRE, entertainment, media, CPG, and tourism, and specializes in synthesizing broad datasets into actionable recommendations for growth. She has worked as the US Director of Consumer Insights at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, VP of Retail Insights and Intelligence at Omnicom, and Senior Director at Kantar. Caroline holds an MA in Sociology from Stanford University and a BA in International Relations from Stanford University.

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