MYRTLE BEACH, SC (AP/WBTW) – Two mall operators, which own malls in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday.
Both companies, CBL Properties and Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, were hurt by the coronavirus pandemic that has forced their tenants to permanently close stores or not pay rent.
Both companies said their malls will remain open as they go through the bankruptcy process.
Even before the virus, malls have struggled to attract shoppers who are increasingly shopping online or elsewhere. But the pandemic forced many of them to temporarily close for months. Mall tenants, which operators rely on for rent payments, are also stressed. Some are going bankrupt and closing stores, such as department store chain J.C. Penney.
The two bankruptcies come just before the crucial holiday shopping season. With reported coronavirus cases rising, malls will need to limit crowds during what is traditionally their busiest times of the year.
CBL, which operates 107 malls including Coastal Grand Mall in Myrtle Beach, said more than 30 of its tenants have filed for bankruptcy protection this year and are shutting stores, including woman’s clothing retailer Ascena, which has 100 Ann Taylor, LOFT and other stores in CBL malls. Based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, CBL operates malls across the U.S., including Northwoods Mall in North Charleston and Westgate Crossing in Spartanburg, along with a number of malls in North Carolina.
In August, Coastal Grand Mall announced safety precautions for its tax-free weekend.
PREIT, which owns Magnolia Mall in Florence, has more than 20 properties. It also owns Jacksonville Mall in North Carolina.
Like other malls looking to attract shoppers, PREIT has added restaurants, movie theaters and gyms to its malls in recent years, which now account for about 24% of its tenants. But those establishments have been hit harder by the pandemic and have stricter rules on how many people can visit.
PREIT said more stores are paying rent now than earlier this year, but it still expects its revenue from rent to continue to suffer as long as COVID-19 affects “the return of customers to malls.”
Magnolia Mall reopened in late April with safety measures to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
For a map of all CBL locations, click here.
To read CBL’s news release, click here.
For a list of all PREIT locations, click here.
To read PREIT’s news release, click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.