White walls are up across from Old Navy inside the Battlefield Mall. It’s a barrier that expands from Zales to Spencer’s in the south wing of the shopping mall.
Within a few weeks, the barrier will be plastered with marketing materials providing a clear message: H&M is coming soon.
Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) announced the planned addition of the Sweden-based fashion retailer at the end of January. Officially Hennes & Mauritz Inc., the H&M store will occupy roughly 20,000 square feet of what was originally On the Ball, Trinkets and Visionworks. They’ve relocated to other storefronts in the mall, said Battlefield Mall General Manager Michael Martin.
H&M is slated to open this fall and will add 20 employees to its national workforce of 16,000 people in 565 stores. The retailer carries clothing for women, men, teenagers and children.
The plans come on the heels of over 9,000 retail store closures in 2019 across the United States, according to industry website Retail Dive.
Last year, Charlotte Russe, Charming Charlie, Payless ShoeSource, Andrews Jewelers and Gymboree closed their doors at Battlefield Mall. Eight storefronts currently are vacant, according to Springfield Business Journal research.
But 2019 also came with the addition of Pizza Ranch, Glow Golf and Indulge. Mall officials say they have at least two more store announcements in the pipeline for the first quarter.
City building permits show plans for a Dry Goods store at the mall, which also calls for at least $1 million in renovation work. Dry Goods USA, a subsidiary of Von Maur department stores, offers clothing and accessories for women, according to its website. Martin declined to comment on plans for a Dry Goods market entry.
Mall officials also have backfilled the Charming Charlie space that went vacant in August 2019.
Versona, a boutique that also operates in women’s fashion and jewelry, is expected to open in February, Martin said. Versona also operates at the Branson Landing.
“When we get a space back, we have a list of retailers who are already interested,” Martin said. “Springfield’s a good market and we’re blessed to keep moving forward.”
Bringing H&M to Battlefield Mall was not an easy feat, said Martin.
“A store this size, this took some time to do. Once our current leasing agent got them on-site and did a property tour, it went from there,” Martin said. “Anytime we get someone here, they’re blown away by the traffic we have and how nice it is inside the mall.”
The future H&M store will span six storefronts, said Martin, including the three relocated tenants and three storefronts used by seasonal retailers.
South Carolina-based Weekes Construction Inc. will be one of the general contractors on the project, as well as a firm selected by H&M, Martin said. He declined to disclose construction costs.
H&M operates 10 Missouri stores, including a storefront at the Branson Landing, where it opened in 2018 with a multiyear lease, according to past SBJ reporting.
Nikki Kinney-Sivils, marketing director for Branson Landing, said in an email the Branson Landing H&M has recorded strong sales since it opened, though she declined to disclose figures.
“I’m confident that having two H&M stores in short proximity, yet, two different towns, will not hurt our Landing H&M,” she said, declining to comment on the lease terms of the Branson store.
An H&M spokesperson declined to comment on the local stores, only saying the company is constantly searching for new locations and will announce leases as they are signed.
Retail closures were widespread in the last year, though chain stores spared at Battlefield Mall include Macy’s and Victoria’s Secret.
Despite the national closures, U.S. Census Bureau data show retail sales, including e-commerce, have been growing by almost 4% every year over the last decade. The National Retail Federation reports that e-commerce transactions make up 10% of all retail sales.
Stephanie Cegielski, spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers, said Gen Z might have something to do with a retail comeback. The council’s data show that 97% of Gen Zers shop at malls or physical stores despite the emergence of e-commerce.
“The state of the retail industry is strong,” Cegielski said. “The conversation should not be in-store versus online because physical and digital complement each other … to provide the best experience for consumers, which, in turn, boosts the bottom line for retailers.”
The Battlefield Mall has recently maintained an occupancy rate just above the national average of 91%, according to ICSC data.
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