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In October, Sears Canada said it is closing. This store is in Toronto. (Photo: Rene Johnston / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The painful truth about the retail bloodletting is that it's been a long time coming. Since about 2003, when they went on a construction tear, American builders have lived by the Field of Dreams rule: build it and customers will come. Now, there are way too many stores, and way too much space devoted to them: Credit Suisse says a quarter of American malls — up to 275 of them — will shut over the next five years; CoStar, the real estate research firm, tells Axios that the excess is more like 150.

Quick take: "What we are seeing going on is Darwinism at play," says CoStar's Ryan McCullough. "We believe that all these closures will have a healthy impact on the industry, but there will be a disruptive process till we get there."

By the numbers: There are about 1,190 malls in the U.S. American retail as a whole is overbuilt—Americans have far more indoor shopping space than anyone else on the planet. As of a year ago, that was 23.5 square feet per person. Two next two on the list — Canada and Australia — have 16.4 and 11.1, respectively.

The bottom line: Analysts view this as an issue of productivity — sales divided by space, more or less. By that measure, American retail productivity as a whole is 7.5% below the long-term average, McCullough says; for malls, the shortfall is 13%. To get back to the average, 150 million square feet of mall space — adding up to 150 malls — "need to go away," he says. Overall, retail needs to close down 1.5 billion share feet of space.

McCullough doesn't think the result will be so many malls closing, but a lot of individual stores shutting their doors across the whole population of malls.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The move marks the end of the ban on most European visitors put in place under former President Trump in March 2020.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
25 mins ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.

White House aims to protect workers from extreme heat

Two pear pickers in Hood River, Oregon on August 13, 2021. (Michael Hanson/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House announced a slew of actions Monday, including the start of a rule-making process at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to protect American workers from extreme heat.

Driving the news: The U.S. just had its hottest summer on record, with triple-digit-temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and exposing outdoor workers to dangerous conditions.

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