Former Sears exec sees possible shopping mall crash

A mall crash is coming: Pro

Overcapacity and the growth of online shopping could eventually result in a "crash of sorts" among lower- and midtier shopping malls, Mark Cohen, former CEO of Sears Canada, told CNBC on Tuesday.

"I don't think it's going to be abrupt," he said on "Squawk on the Street." "But ... the most popular malls will prevail, and the B and C malls won't."

Asked about an op-ed in USA Today on the impending extinction of shopping malls across the U.S., Cohen said there were too many malls, which themselves had too many stores.

The op-ed cited one prediction that 10 percent of enclosed malls could fail before 2022, while those catering to affluent shoppers should continue to do well.

(Read more: Storms walloped retailers; shoppers stayed home)

Cohen, now a professor at Columbia Business School, added that the Internet was a major driver of the trend.

"More and more customers are buying more and more products more and more often from the comfort and privacy of their own home," he said.

Overall, Cohen said, the holiday shopping season has put stress on retailers, with heavy price-cutting conditioning consumers to be bargain hunters both online and off. Further, the looming possibility of higher interest rates may damage retailers' ability to offload inventory.

(Read more: The one word that may save retailers this Christmas)

"This is the most promotional holiday season I've ever seen," he said. "It's not just the short season but the weakness of the business starting into the second quarter, going right into the fourth quarter."

—By CNBC's Jeff Morganteen. Follow him on Twitter at @jmorganteen and get the latest stories from "Squawk on the Street."