From RadioShack to Sears and from Staples to Abercrombie & Fitch, the recent retail landscape has been characterized by a wave of mall staples announcing hundreds—sometimes even more than 1,000—store closings.
So what will fill the space of these defunct stores?
Sandeep Mathrani, CEO of mall-focused real estate investment trust General Growth Properties, said retailers from Lululemon to Gap are eyeing these vacancies to house spinoff retail concepts, as they search for ways to grow sales organically.
"In the older days before the recession, there were new malls being constructed," he said. "When the recession hit, all the new development came to a standstill."
Because of this imbalance between supply and demand, the competition is intensifying among retailers trying to gain a foothold in high-performing malls, Mathrani said. Since the industry's trough in third quarter 2010—when total shopping center vacancy rates hit 11.3 percent—they've recovered three percentage points, hitting 8.1 percent in fourth quarter 2013, according to International Council of Shopping Centers data.
At General Growth Properties, the occupancy rate is at an all-time high of 93 percent, which compares to the previous high of 91 percent about 10 years ago, Mathrani said.
"Retailers are healthy again and looking to expand," ICSC spokeman Jesse Tron said.
Click through to see 10 up-and-coming retail concepts.
—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson
Posted 21 March 2014