ARCADIA, California, December 14, 2017 — Remember when teenage kids hanging out at the mall was a rite of passage? Well, now those same kids, and a lot of their friends, young and old, are hanging out online to do their shopping. As a result, one of the world’s biggest mall operators, Westfield Corporation, which owns Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia, is exiting the business with their sale on Tuesday to Unibail-Rodamco SE.
It didn’t take the Oracle of Delphi to read the handwriting on the wall. U.S. malls have been slammed by the consumer shift to e-commerce. Perennial mall anchors like Macy’s, Sears, and Penny’s have been slashing staff and closing stores in wake of declining foot traffic.
Although Westfield’s glitzy portfolio encompasses malls from Los Angeles to New York’s World Trade Center, Westfield is actually a Sydney, Australia-based company. Owner Frank Lowy, a Holocaust survivor, started in the business with a deli he opened in a western Sydney suburb.
Despite the $15.7 billion price tag, the France-based Unibail, still found the deal enticing. It operates malls across Europe, where online transactions represent only 8 percent of retail sales compared to 13.9 percent in the United States.
Globally, the combined entity will comprise 104 malls, which all be branded under the Westfield name.
“There’s money to be saved by advertising only one brand,” Unibail CEO Christophe Cuvillier told The Wall Street Journal.