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Malls that rake in the most sales per square foot

Registers are ringing
Dan Dalton | Caiaimage | Getty Images

Despite their reputation as cookie-cutter properties that have proliferated throughout the suburbs, one thing is for sure: Not all malls are created equal.

Instead, as the obituaries pile in for dead or dying malls across the country, there's another set of properties that are not only surviving but thriving, sending their asking rents and sales per square foot higher.

This divide is becoming even more pronounced as online shopping broadens its reach, and retailers recognize they no longer need to have a physical store in every market.

"[Retailers] want to be in the best place, and they'll pay almost any rent to be there," said Andrew Nelson, Colliers International's chief economist for the U.S. "If the sales are not there, they don't care what the rent is."

The preeminent centers didn't become industry leaders by accident. In addition to curating their tenant mix with in-demand brands, several of the properties are undergoing face lifts to retain their place at the top of the market.

To see a list of the top 10 most productive malls, according to estimates by Green Street Advisors real estate research firm, click ahead.

Read MoreDoubling down on the future of the American shopping mall

—By CNBC's Krystina Gustafson
Published 8 June 2015

10. The Mall at Millenia
gGraphy | Flickr

Sales per square foot: $1,360*
Location:
Orlando
Owner: The Forbes Co., in partnership with Taubman Centers
Date built: 2002

Located 15 miles from Walt Disney World and right off Orlando's main interstate, The Mall at Millenia is a destination for tourists and locals alike. According to a 2014 report by The Forbes Co., more than 59 million shoppers visit the property each year.

*All sales data is based on estimates from Green Street Advisors

9. Orlando Premium Outlets
Source: Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets

Sales per square foot: $1,385
Location:
Orlando
Owner: Simon Property Group
Date built: 2000

Only a short drive from The Mall at Millennia are two Simon-owned outlet centers, both named the Orlando Premium Outlets. Each center sells designer goods at a deep discount, but with a slightly different tenant mix. The mall on Vineland Avenue—the one that made Green Street's top 10 list—has a few more high-fashion options, including Lululemon and Tory Burch.

8. Ala Moana Center
Daniel Ramirez | Flickr

Sales per square foot: $1,400
Location:
Honolulu
Owner: General Growth Properties
Date built: 1959

Hawaii's Ala Moana Center is the world's largest open-air shopping center. The property, which is home to stores including Gucci, Chanel and Prada, was the first mall in the U.S. to reach $1 billion in annual sales. But that was back in 1998. It's undergoing a $660 million expansion that's expected to be finished in the fourth quarter.

7. Pheasant Lane Mall
Pheasant Lane Mall
Source: Pheasant Lane Mall

Sales per square foot: $1,549
Location:
Nashua, New Hampshire
Owner: Simon Property Group
Date built: 1986

The Pheasant Lane Mall, located in sales tax-free New Hampshire, offers a more wallet-friendly tenant mix. Its anchor stores include Dick's Sporting Goods, Target and Macy's.

6. Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets
Emile Wamsteker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Sales per square foot: $1,550
Location:
Central Valley, New York
Owner: Simon Property Group
Date built: 1985

The highest-ranking outlet center on the list, Woodbury Commons is located about two hours outside of New York City. Bargain-hungry Manhattan dwellers are known to hop buses to the property, whose stores include Burberry and Diane von Furstenberg.

5. Forum Shops at Caesars
Mark Flores | Flickr

Sales per square foot: $1,616
Location:
Las Vegas
Owner: Simon Property Group
Date built: 1992

In true Las Vegas style, the Forum Shops at Caesars—a group of 160 stores at the Caesars Palace resort and casino—aren't your typical retail. Shoppers can also watch a fire and water show called The Fall of Atlantis, complete with talking statues.

4. Aventura Mall
Aventura Mall
Source: Aventura Mall

Sales per square foot: $1,642
Location:
Aventura, Florida
Owner: Turnberry Associates
Date built: 1983

Another luxury property based in Florida, the Aventura Mall is located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. It features 300 stores, an Equinox Fitness Club, a movie theater and three spas. Following renovations in 2006 and an expansion two years later, there are plans for a new 241,000-square-foot expansion project.

3. The Mall at Rockingham Park
The Mall at Rockingham Park
Source: The Mall at Rockingham Park

Sales per square foot: $2,105
Location:
Salem, New Hampshire
Owner: Simon Property Group
Date built: 1991

Like the Pheasant Lane Mall, The Mall at Rockingham Park is also located tax-free New Hampshire. The property will have a new look come fall, when its entrances, dining area and several stores will debut their upgrades.

2. The Grove
Chrisjtse | Flickr

Sales per square foot: $2,140
Location:
Los Angeles
Owner: Caruso Affiliated
Date built: 2002

Caruso Affiliated's The Grove property has become synonymous with the trolley that runs through it, and which pays homage to L.A.'s history. The mall caters to families, with a tenant list that ranges from American Girl Place to Coach. It also holds a fountain show every hour.

1. Bal Harbour Shops
EDSA

Sales per square foot: $3,070
Location:
Bal Harbour, Florida
Owner: Whitman Family Development
Date built: 1965

Celebrating 50 years since its opening, Bal Harbour Shops is the fourth Florida mall to make the list. The open-air center brings the state's tropical environment to life with a resort-like aura. Fish ponds and palm trees are weaved throughout the family-owned center, which is awaiting approval on an expansion plan.

Read MoreDoubling down on the future of the American shopping mall