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10 changes at local malls that you’ll see in 2019

Retail’s rapid evolution brought several changes to area malls in 2018.

As consumer shopping habits change and more traffic shifts online, area shopping centers are making big changes. Here are few of the top changes shoppers saw this year and into 2019:

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1. Sears and Elder-Beerman make their exits

Major retailers like Dayton-founded Elder-Beerman and Sears closed their doors in the Miami Valley this year. Both companies filed for bankruptcy and announced massive store closures.

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All Bon-Ton stores have shut their doors and Sears’ fate is still in limbo. Sears has, however, announced that all stores in the Miami Valley will close by March.

The closures leave massive holes  in local malls that have lost two of their more than 100,000 square-foot anchors.

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2. Entertainment concept to open first location in Dayton area

Japanese entertainment concept Round 1, similar to a Dave and Buster’s, is opening in the other half of the soon-to-be vacant Sears space at the Mall at Fairfield Commons. It’s expected to open late next year.

In 2010, the company expanded overseas with its first store in Industry, California. Since then, it has expanded in the United States to 39 locations across 21 states. The only other Ohio location is near Cleveland.

3. New furniture store moves in

Chicago-based The RoomPlace plans to open a store at the Dayton Mall and one at the Mall at Fairfield Commons in the coming year. The store is helping to fill half of the vacant Sears space at Faifield Commons.

The brand has opened more than 25 stores since it started in 1912, mainly in Chicago and Indianapolis. It’s expansion into Dayton is it’s first move out of Illinois and Indiana.

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4. Off-price retailer to make Dayton Mall debut

The Dayton Mall confirmed in October that Ross Dress for Less would open a store in the former hhgregg space beside JCPenney. The discount retailer has plans to rapidly expand throughout 2019. It forecasts it will have more than 2,400 locations nationwide.

The closest Ross store currently is in Indianapolis. The Dayton Mall hasn’t disclosed an opening date yet. Another store is planned for Beavercreek, according to Greene County records.

5. Fairfield Commons announces two new tenants back-to-back

Stores continue to announce new openings at the Mall at Fairfield Commons. American Eagle’s undergarment and lingerie brand Aerie will open a store at the Mall at Fairfield Commons.

The day after this news organization reported Aerie’s opening, the mall also announced new store opening for BoxLunch, which sells apparel, accessories, collectibles, beauty, home goods, gifts and novelty merchandise, and for every $10 spent in store or online, the retailer donates a meal to Feeding America.

6. Beavercreek mall opens family entertainment space

As consumer shopping habits change, malls must follow suit. The Mall at Fairfield Commons opened a new family game area to mix shopping with entertainment in September.

Customers of the Beavercreek shopping center can play air hockey, ping pong, cornhole, oversized chess, Jenga, Connect Four and soccer pool, a large pool table-like area with soccer balls. “The Yard” is located between Icing and Lids on the upper level of the Mall at Fairfield Commons above the main entrance.

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7. Niche shops open new locations

While department stores that try to do it all continue to struggle, small niche shops continue to expand with several opening or announcing openings in 2018. Pop-up shop Farmhouse Cottage Company, which sells furniture and boutique-style merchandise opened at The Greene Town Center in August. Niche women’s fashion stores Altar’d State and Dry Goods also opened at the Greene last year, in addition to Cincinnati-bashed Hats N More.

8. Struggling retailers plan to close local shops

National retailers with smaller spaces have also announced closures this year. Gap at The Greene will close as the company plans to cut the brand to focus on Old Navy. Victoria’s Secret is also planning to sell its La Senza brand.

9. Giant retailer shifts focus to outdoor shopping centers

The Dayton Daily News has reported that Old Navy will open at Austin Landing via Montgomery County permits. While the Dayton Mall has not responded to request for comment about how this may impact the mall’s store, it’s not typical for two Old Navy stores to operate in such close proximity.

10. Major vacant spaces still need to be filled

Moving into 2019, mall owners’ biggest question will be how to fill sometimes more than 200,o00 square-foot spaces left by closed Elder-Beerman and Sears stores. Very few retailers are looking for large-format stores. Malls in the past have used the large vacant boxes for entertainment concepts and furniture stores and knocked down the buildings to create outward facing restaurants.

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