Mall Vacancies Rise as JC Penney, Sears Downsize

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Morning Money Memo…

More retail distress is having a big impact on many mall operators. Store closings by JC Penney, Sears, RadioShack and other struggling retailers may raise mall vacancy rates, making them less attractive places for shoppers.

Nearly half of U.S. malls have Penney or Sears as an anchor tenant, according to a real estate research firm. WalMart, JC Penney and Nordstrom will report quarterly earnings this week, giving new clues about consumer spending. The Commerce Department will release April retail sales numbers.

"Eight in 10 consumers believe the economy is still in a recession. Eight in 10 would say this is a new normal," says Rich Nanda an executive with Deloitte Consulting.

Most consumers conduct "very close monitoring of what they're spending their dollars on."

The Deloitte survey questioned more than 4,000 consumers. Nanda said since the recession they've become more frugal and resourceful. "What that's led to is an erosion in brand loyalty," he said. Only a third of brands are considered must-haves.

For many generations America has been a nation on the move, with people moving to new parts of the country for jobs and other opportunities.

Millennials may be the exception to the rule. More than 80 million Americans born between 1981 and 2000 "prove less restless than their forebears," says Bloomberg News.

"The standstill may be holding back recovery in the labor and housing markets," Bloomberg quotes migration expert William Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who researched U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

"Millennials are mired down, very cautious about buying a home or moving to new areas," Frey says. While young Americans relocate more than other age groups, the pace has slowed in the recent years.

Congressional investigators say the government has failed to inspect thousands of oil and gas wells it considers potentially high risks for water contamination and other environmental damage.

The report from the Government Accountability Office highlights substantial gaps in oversight as fracking is on rise. Environmental critics say without more rigorous oversight oil and gas wells will pollute drinking water supplies.

Hillshire Brands is buying Pinnacle Foods, whose brands include Duncan Hines and Aunt Jemima, in a cash-and-stock deal valued at approximately $4.23 billion. Hillshire Brands' roster of brands includes Jimmy Dean meats and Sara Lee frozen bakery goods.

Nissan's quarterly profit edged up nearly 5 percent as sales grew around the world and a favorable exchange rate helped earnings. Nissan reports today that January-March profit totaled $1.1 billion and quarterly sales rose more than 20 percent.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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