Big retailers go down with economy

PASADENA, Calif. The malls are still crowded, but shoppers simply aren't spending as much.

Sears has been hit hard lately. It was once called the world's largest store, but it could soon close a large number of locations.

"If you look at Sears, and they've sort of been wandering in the wilderness. And then they're also competing with, of course, Wal-Mart, which has got their game back ... Costco, even Target," said Jack Kyser, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.

Kyser says many other big names are in big trouble. According to Kyser, Circuit City may not make it, Starbucks is closing down hundreds of stores all over the country, and The Gap is also closing stores due to a drop in sales.

"I think it doesn't surprise me because they've opened too many, and now they don't have enough to pay for them. Not because they're doing bad as a company, but because they have too many to pay for," said shopper Hiiaka Ambrose.

Retailer Mervyn's filed for bankruptcy recently. The company has 175 stores, mostly in California. The East Coast's Boscov's Department Store filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Both companies blame credit issues and the weak consumer market for their troubles.

The economic news isn't good. Some predict it will be rough until 2010. It seems shoppers are hesitant to spend any money.

"Everything is cutting back. Restaurants, we all work at a restaurant ... everything ... Everything is less busy," said shopper Lynn Ponchock.

"You've got a very tightfisted consumer. They've sort of backed away from buying. And so this is going to go on for the rest of the year, everybody wondering what Christmas 2008 will be like," said Kyser.

Economy experts say malls will look different as stores close. And along with empty spaces, fewer stores mean fewer jobs.


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