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Americans with extra cash in their pockets thanks to the drop in gas prices are spending it, according to Chaim Katzman, the owner of hundreds of shopping malls across the United States.
"Clearly the customer is back, the consumer is back," the chairman of Gazit-Globe said in an interview with "Closing Bell. "
"Each American family has another $200 in its pocket, then some of it gets spent in our shopping centers."
Vacancies are also being "gobbled up."
While some have declared the shopping mall dead, with too many stores in the country and increased competition with online shopping, Katzman said that not all are the same.
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"The U.S. has been over-retailed for as long as I can remember," he said, noting that the U.S. has 24 square feet per capita compared with 80 in Europe or 1 in Brazil.
"Clearly there is bifurcation. You see the secondary and tertiary markets suffering, in our view, and urban, hard to penetrate, strong demographics shopping centers doing extremely well."
He's also unconcerned about the effect of an interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve, which many believe will come this year.
That's because it will go up in tandem with other elements in the economy.
"That means the consumer is going to do well, there is going to be more buying going on in our shopping centers, our customers are going to do well. We will be able to raise rents," he said.
He believes a raise of up to about 100 basis points will not do much to the industry.
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