The mall is dead … but it’s still paying me dividends

 

I went to the mall for the first time in a loooong time the other day.

That’s right, I said I went to the mall. I was looking for some shoes.

Call me old fashioned, but I’m the kind of guy who likes to try things on before I buy. Unless you’re really familiar with a brand or have the same style shoe, shirt or whatever else in a different color, you really never know how something’s going to fit before you give it a quick test drive.

Anyway, I found a pair I really liked at a store that will remain nameless, and figured I’d ask someone to see if they had my size in the back. Standard protocol. The guy came back and said they didn’t have any in 11.5, but had an 11 and a 12 I could try. Tried both and, as expected, the 11 was a bit too snug and the 12 was too big.

Damn.

I figured I’d see if there was something else … settle, ya know? Long story short, while I did find another shoe I wanted, they didn’t have 11.5 in that style, either.

Damn.

I walked out without spending a dime.

My wife was with me and, after whiffing at the shoe store, decided she wanted to stop in a place, which will also remain nameless, and grab a shirt she liked after seeing it on a friend. It was a nice shirt, I’ll give her that, and it was easy to find … right at the front of the store.

So we got the shirt and hopped in line. There was a line, believe it or not, but only because a couple people in front of us were trying to return some things. I say trying because, well, the registers were acting funny and I guess the people at the store couldn’t complete the return or exchange or whatever.

That should’ve been our clue to get the hell outta there, but we waited a minute to see if they could get the computers back online.

Unsurprisingly, the computers couldn’t quite reboot before we got tired of waiting.

“Come back in a bit,” they said. “We’ll hold the shirt for you.”

OK! Thanks. See ya … or not.

We never made it back. Two stores, two potential purchases, two empty-handed shoppers.

I’m not blaming the peeps at the stores for the less-than-super experiences. Stuff like that happens all the time. What I am saying, though, is my most recent mall experience was underwhelming to say the least. There were lots of nearly-empty stores, not all that many shoppers walking around and my wife and I walked out without spending a dime.

Maybe the mall really is dead.

Fortunately for me, a mall stock I own isn’t. At least I don’t think it is … it paid me a dividend Thursday.

Simon Property Group

I  received a solid $1.80 dividend from SPG. Not bad considering I only own one share. The company, a REIT with a ton of upscale malls in its portfolio, pays a juicy annualized dividend of $7.20. Its payout ratio is astronomical, but same can be said for a lot of other companies that seem to be doing OK for themselves … right, Caterpillar?

Simon Property Group is down $12.49 since I bought my share back in April, and, as a surprise to no one who has been paying any attention at all to what’s been going on with retail, it’s trading more than 28% below its 52-week high of $219.41.

It’s paying a nice dividend, though, so I’m going to wait a little while and see if they can turn this thing around. Malls as we know them might be dead, but that doesn’t mean they can’t reinvent themselves to a certain extent. People like the convenience of shopping from their couches, but they also like to get out of the house from time to time.

Let’s see where SPG is in a year or so.

March on!