While this is good news for the national retail chains, it doesn't help owners of retail properties.
"If you and I had to look at which side of the story is something to worry about more, the retailers or the landlords, I would stay much more worried about the landlords," Hastings said.
The ICSC predicts that 148,000 retail stores were shut in 2008, and that another 73,000 stores will close in the first half of this year. If this occurs, the number of closures last year will likely be the highest since at least 2001.
Adding to the troubles, a large number of these expected store closures are for anchor tenants that often help to drive traffic to the rest of the shopping center.
Already there are plenty of signs of trouble among the mall operators. General Growth Properties has been trying to hash out a new deal with its lenders and avoid bankruptcy.
Late Monday, the Chicago company posted a 7.7 percent decline in funds from operations after factoring out one-time items such as advisory fees and lawsuit settlement cots. General Growth is suffering from lower fees from overage rents, which are tied to retailers sales growth, and from a decline in occupancy.
The company fared only slightly worse than Simon Property Group , which shows that these problems aren't tied solely to General Growth's operational abilities.
To help manage through these tough times, mall operators are trying to cut costs by reducing operating hours. They also are thinking outside the "Big Box" to attract new tenants.