National Retailers Adapt to Consumers' 'New Normal'

National retail chains' growth since the recession ended has come largely at the expense of mom-and-pop stores, said David Henry, CEO of Kimco Realty .

"Local stores are still in distress, especially in some of the hot housing markets—Southern California, Florida, Nevada, Arizona," the CEO of largest owner of U.S. community shopping centers, told CNBC's "The Strategy Session" on Wednesday.

In fact, national chains are feeling confident enough that the worst is behind them that some are thinking about expansion, he said.

“In terms of the retailersthemselves, their earnings are strong, their balance sheets are strong, their comp sales stores are up a bit. So they're feeling like playing offense," Henry said.

"Remember they cut their inventory, learned to live with lower sales levels, they’ve cut their rents where they can. So they are feeling better about life," he said, adding, "and we are too.”

The winners of the sector are the discount stores, who are the best-positioned to take advantage of consumers' new frugality.

“It’s all part of this new normal, people are looking for value even as they feel a little better about their own personal financial situation,” Henry said.

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"If you are a Marshals, a Ross Stores , a TJX you’re doing quite well and you’re looking about expanding. These are good, strong, healthy discounters and they’re growing,” he said.