Simon added that, even with more retail bankruptcies looming, he doesn't expect there will be as many in 2019 as there were in 2018 and 2017. The pace of retail bankruptcies cooled off last year, he said. "The days of a rising economic tide ... don't lift all retail boats. You've got a lot of outperformance and a lot of underperformance."
Simon's chief operating officer, Rick Sokolov, added on Friday that the mall owner was having success in bringing online brands like Untuckit, Warby Parker and Fabletics to its properties. A lot of e-commerce companies today are raising money "just to roll out more stores," Sokolov said. "The single best thing we have going for us are [our] incredibly strong properties."
Simon finds itself in a better position than most of the other publicly traded mall owners today, such as CBL Properties and Washington Prime Group. Simon's properties tend to be in higher-trafficked markets, and analysts say Simon has more liquidity on its balance sheet to be able to handle an uptick in redevelopment activity.
"I think we've never been busier on the alternative uses," David Simon said as he told analysts about what's coming down the pipeline, adding the future of the mall is all about "live, work, play."
Simon said it ended 2018 with sales per square foot of $661, up 5.3 percent from a year ago. Simon's occupancy rate was 95.9 percent as of Dec. 31, compared with 95.6 percent a year earlier.
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