America's best malls have this tenant in common

Pros debate Apple expectations
Pros debate Apple expectations

For retailers, finding a prime piece of real estate for their next store may not be too difficult; they just need to find a spot near Apple.

Goldman Sachs on Thursday released its list of the top 100 malls in the U.S., which included 16 new additions. Among the premier properties, 75 percent are home to an Apple store, up from 69 percent last year. That compares to just 14 percent of all malls that count the tech behemoth as a tenant, the report found.

But the percentage of Apple stores wasn't the only thing on the rise. According to Goldman, the average sales per square foot at the top 100 locations also increased, to $792 from $773.

Crowds line up to purchase the new Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus at Westfield Topanga mall in Canoga Park, California.
Patricia Marroquin | Getty Images

Because fewer retail properties are being built, competition has been intense for space at the country's best malls, allowing landlords to charge higher rents.

Goldman's analysts based their ratings on eight factors, including the malls' sales per square foot, the area's population and tourism volumes.

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The firm noted that although mall traffic has fallen 13 percent over the past three years, certain properties are less susceptible to changing consumer preferences.

"Though discretionary spending has been shifting online, select malls have retained traffic as consumers are still attracted to specific locations, offerings and experiences," the report said.

Among department stores, which have traditionally served as so-called "anchor" shops designed to lure shoppers to a particular property, Macy's topped Goldman's list with 85 stores in the top 100 malls. But that's largely because of the fact that, combined with its Bloomingdale's nameplate, it has more than 800 locations.

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When breaking down department stores' presence in the top malls by percentage, Neiman Marcus and its Bergdorf Goodman brand once again topped the list, with 49 percent of its 43 stores in these premier locations.

Nordstrom, which boasts 118 full-line stores, came in a close second, and narrowed the gap from last year. In 2014, Nordstrom only had 40 percent of its locations in the top malls, compared with Neiman's 49 percent.

Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom were followed by Saks, which has 32 percent of its store base in the top 100 malls, and then Macy's, with 11 percent.

Did your favorite mall make Goldman's list? See the top 10 below.

Goldman Sachs' top 10 malls

Rank Mall Location Click to edit
1Westfield Century CityLos Angeles, CA
2Aventura MallAventura, FL
3Westfield Valley FairSanta Clara, CA
4The Mall at Short HillsShort Hills, NJ
5Fashion ShowLas Vegas, NV
6Bal Harbour ShopsBal Harbour, FL
7Forum Shops at CaesarsLas Vegas, NV
8Ala Moana CenterHonolulu, HI
9Palisades CenterWest Nyack, NY
10Queens CenterElmhurst, NY

Source: Goldman Sachs