Sprawl-Busters has completed its annual inventory of “available buildings” that the nation’s largest retail real estate company is hoping to unload. We have done this scan annually around this time of the year ever since the growing problem of empty stores was brought to our attention in 1999. As of today, Wal-Mart Realty has a total of 356 buildings for sale or lease, a total of 26,699,678 million square feet of empty stores. That’s enough empty space to fill up 534 football fields. This phenomenal figure makes Wal-Mart the King of Dead Air in America and the world. No othe retailer has this many dead stores in its inventory. The annual figure ranges around 350 to 400 from year to year. Here are some other noteworthy facts about Wal-Mart’s cast-off buildings:
* 31% of their empty stores (110) are over 100,000 s.f.
* 31% of their empty stores have been on the market 3 years or longer.
* A total of 41 states have dead Wal-Mart stores.
* The top eleven states with dead stores are:
North Carolina, 17
Among the “million club” of states with over 1 million square feet of dead Wal-Marts, Texas boasts 2.64 million square feet of available Wal-Mart buildings, George has 2.0 million s.f., Tennessee has 1.4 million, North Carolina 1.28 million s.f., Louisiana 1.17 million s.f., Oklahoma 1.16 million s.f., Arkansas 1.16 million s.f.., Missouri 1.06 million s.f., and Michigan 1.05 million s.f. Available buildings range from a 3,899 s.f. space in Canton, Texas, to a 149,685 s.f. store in Palmdale, California. Of the 356 stores available, 23 are listed as “under contract” or “sale pending.”
The City Manager in Huber Heights, Ohio said recently that Wal-Mart “has become very aggressive about backfilling their space.” But when a man named Doug Johnson went to negotiate buying a Wal-Mart space in Huber Heights, he was told that Wal-Mart didn’t want competitors to move into its former site. This is consistent with Wal-Mart Realty’s Non-Binding Letter of Intent, which says under Section 19, Restrictions: “The demised premises cannot be used for a discount store, wholesale club or drug store/pharmacy.” Isn’t it fascinating how the exponents of a ‘free market’ find their own quiet ways to limit competition? For previous stories on this subject, search Newflash by “empty” or “dark stores” or “dead”.