Stripped Malls

Retail analysts predict a "sea change" in the retail landscape in 2009, with a record number of bankruptcies, closures and vacancies.

"The ugly sales year that was 2008 will haunt U.S. retailers in 2009, with industry experts warning that disastrous holiday sales will spark a domino effect of store closures and bankruptcy filings. And, with thousands of fewer stores, the 'shop-'til-you-drop' mentality that has characterized American consumerism could be coming to an end.

This spending slump, which started in early 2008, has already claimed a number of retail casualties. Prominent national chains such as Linens 'n Things, Steve & Barry's, KB Toys, Whitehall Jewelers and Shoe Pavilion have gone out of business. Still others such as No. 2 electronics seller Circuit City are barely surviving, hoping to find a lifeline while in bankruptcy protection.

But after suffering one of the worst year-end shopping seasons in decades - November and December combined can account for half of merchants' annual profits and sales - experts predict that many more chains will disappear.

The International Council of Shopping Centers estimates that chain store closings could exceed 3,100 in just the first half of the year."

Full Story: Thousands of stores to disappear in '09

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