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Simon ‘Tickled Pink By The Demand’ As Sales At REIT’s Malls Reach Pre-Pandemic Levels

Sales at Simon Property Group malls have surged this year, and as of June, they were back at pre-pandemic levels, according to Simon CEO David Simon.

King of Prussia Mall

Total sales at Simon malls for June were equal to June 2019 sales and up 80% compared to last year, Simon said during the company's second-quarter earnings call on Monday. Sales were also about 5% higher than May 2021 sales.

Leasing activity is brisk as well, Simon said, with the company executing leases for 3M SF more in the first half of 2021 than the first six months of 2019 over about 800 more deals. 

"In talking to my heads of leasing ... we're tickled pink by the demand by the new retailers and tenants that are surfacing, [by] the many, many opportunities that we have with restaurants, with mixed-use development," Simon said.

"We still have a hole to dig out of because of the bankruptcies that we had to confront with the pandemic," Simon said. "But I'm very pleased with the activity, the mojo that we have in leasing."

Simon denied that malls are vectors for transmission of the coronavirus.

"The mall is safe, OK?" he said. "And so even though we're starting to see counties talk about indoors, there's no science about the mall. I underline that we've been mistreated in this whole 18-month ordeal, but it is what it is. 

"We have not seen in an enclosed mall an uptick in Covid cases for the people that are in the mall, the staff, whether it's a retail or a management team, period."

Simon added that the company isn't going to mandate vaccines but rather encourage them.   

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group raised its full-year earnings guidance in response to the return of shoppers to its malls and the slate of new leases. The company now expects its funds from operations for 2021 to be between $10.70 and $10.80 per share, up from the first quarter’s guidance of $9.70 to $9.80 a share.

The company reported that funds from operations rose to $1.21B for Q2 2021, or $3.24 per share, up 53% compared with the same period last year, when many stores were still shuttered.

Net income for the mall REIT came to $617.3M during Q2 2021, or $1.88 per share, up from $254.2M, or 83 cents a share, a year ago.