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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Malls are becoming ghosts of retail past. But the left-behind real estate is being reimagined for a post-pandemic world.

Why it matters: As many as 17% of malls in the U.S. "may no longer be viable as shopping centers and need to be redeveloped into other uses," per Barclays.

What's going on...

  • Amazon — a major contributor to the mall demise — is using old mall space for fulfillment centers, NBC News reported last week.
  • Part of a downtown shopping mall in Vermont is now home to a high school, the AP reported.
  • Fortnite creator Epic Games' global headquarters will be a North Carolina mall that was "close to total death," a local mayor told WRAL.

By the numbers: Regional mall vacancy rates hit a record 11.4% last quarter, per a Moody's report last week.

  • Vacancies have been rising for years. But that was the biggest-ever jump from a prior quarter (90 basis points).

Driving the news: Mall owner Simon Property Group releases earnings later this month after a hell year grappling with store closures and unpaid rent. All eyes are on now on occupancy.

  • Things are looking up as vaccinated and flush consumers return to stores, a fact that led an analyst to upgrade the stock today. But the long-term trend of more online shopping isn't working in their favor.

Where it stands: To survive, malls are bringing in tenants that aren’t traditional clothing stores, like gyms, bowling alleys or grocery stores.

  • The sprawling American Dream mall — complete with a water park and indoor skiing — is an extreme example. (Even there, things aren’t going so well.)

The bottom line: "There's tremendous turnover in mall real estate right now. We've known for years we just have too much out there," says Michael Brown, a partner at consultant firm Kearney.

Go deeper

Updated 54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutor to seek hate crime charges, death penalty in Atlanta shootings

In Hopkinton, Mass., the Rally & Run To Stop Asian Hate is held to show solidarity in the wake of deadly Atlanta shootings and to mourn the loss of eight lives including six Asian women. Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Prosecutors unveiled murder charges against the white man accused of shooting and killing eight people, six of whom were Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas, AP reports.

Driving the news: A prosecutor filed notice that she plans to seek hate crime charges and the death penalty in the case. Two separate grand juries have now indicted the suspect on murder charges.

America's pandemic coin crunch returns

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

An early pandemic problem that plagued businesses is back: not enough change to go around.

Why it matters: The pandemic broke America's coin flow. It has repercussions for millions that rely on it for daily transactions.