Local retailers said they are concerned for the future of the Acadiana Mall and its impact on the economy

Lafayette residents wall through the Acadiana Mall. According to a national statistic, they predict 20-25% of American shopping malls will close between 2017 and 2022.

Photo by Hannah Simmons

By Hannah Simmons

@Hannahsimmons1

The rapid, nationwide shopping mall closures concern some Lafayette retailers regarding the possible impact on the future of the business at the Acadiana Mall.

Studies like Credit Suisse predict 20-25% of American shopping malls will close between 2017 and 2022.

Local small business owner Angelle Gooding said if the mall fails it would have a huge impact on retail small business owners and the Lafayette economy.  

“The box stores would just offer their products online and there would be great job loss,” Gooding said. 

According to Lafayette Economic Development Authority (LEDA), the city of Lafayette will receive $308,000 from tax revenues produced by the Acadiana Mall last year. Lafayette Parish will receive $835,000.

In the last year, various retailers have permanently closed their doors in the Acadiana Mall, causing concern for some store managers and mall employees. Sears, Banana Republic and Gap are among those that were closed. 

Rachel Sawyer, a store manager in the Mall of Acadiana, said she has noticed a significant decrease in the amount of traffic and sales in recent years.

“Many people come to the mall just to browse,” Sawyer said. “I’ve noticed that a lot of times, they don’t come in with any intention to buy.”

Screen Shot 2019-12-06 at 9.50.16 PM

Source: Credit Suisse U.S / Rate of retail store closures

Sawyer said she believes the mall could draw in more business if it were updated and remodeled into an outdoor shopping center. 

Despite recent store closures, owners of the Acadiana Mall are making efforts to increase chances for success by bringing in new stores like H&M, which opened its doors Nov. 21. The store occupies four-store spaces spanning a total of 16,000 square feet. 

Store Manager Kyre Hymel said she believes H&M will increase traffic in the mall and benefit the overall business.

“The mall isn’t going anywhere,” Hymel said. “Shopping is an experience that people love. The in-store shopping experience is elevated, creating an experience that you can’t get online and people will always flock to that.”

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