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Simon Already in Festive Spirit With Uptick in Holiday Traffic

The holiday shopping bonanza witnessed a prelude on Thanksgiving Day, kick starting officially with Black Friday, gathering steam with Cyber Monday, and now, of course, there is the entire period of Christmas. Also, the nation’s economy is highlighting strength, job market is strong with high employment and rising wages, and consumers are exhibiting confidence in their well-being.

This sets the ground right for retail REIT Simon Property Group Inc. SPG, which, with an alluring range of deals, festive activities, dining and entertainment options at its properties, already recorded solid traffic during the beginning of the holiday shopping season. On the basis of data gathered across its portfolio of malls, Premium Outlets and Mills centers, there was a 2% uptick in traffic from its comparable period a year earlier.

Moreover, David Simon, chairman and chief executive officer noted, "Some luxury brands in our centers saw sales increase 20-30% vs. last year, while certain sportswear and athleisure brands had their best Black Friday ever and exceeded their own high expectations."

Nonetheless, rapid shift toward e-retailing, store closures and retailer bankruptcies have long prevailed as pressing concerns for retail landlords, including Simon Property, Kimco Realty Corp. KIM, Macerich Company MAC and Taubman Centers, Inc. TCO.

However, Simon Property is navigating through the retail apocalypse by investing billions to transform its properties aimed at creating value and drive footfall at the company’s properties. The transformational plans included addition of hotels, restaurants, residences and luxury stores.

In addition to the above, Simon Property is exploring mixed-use development option which has gained immense popularity in recent years as it helps catch the attention of people who prefer to live, work and play in the same area.

Ultimately, the aim is to transform retail shopping centers in a way such that these spaces appear as a one-stop destination where people can not only shop, live and work, but also entertain, socialize and exercise, and even visit doctors or relax at the spa. Eventually, such measures will likely help boost traffic and drive sales.

Also, the company’s press release stated that according to research, 72% of Gen Z'ers makes trips to malls at least once a month (HRC Retail Advisory Survey). Furthermore, a large chunk of millennials have preference of shopping "in real life" (Forbes), particularly for items like denim, footwear and beauty products. Trial of such items before purchasing is not only worthy but also an enjoyable part of the shopping activity. All these raise hopes for an impressive holiday season ahead.

Simon Property currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). The company’s shares have appreciated 13.7% in the past six months as against its industry’s decline of 5.8%.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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