Ocean County’s older population seems to have protected its mall; both J.C. Penney and Macy’s have closed stores elsewhere.
But experts warn that the trend isn’t reversing itself. As many as a quarter of the nation’s 1,200 malls will close in the next five years, a report last year by Credit Suisse predicted.
Some developers are trying to shift gears. The owners of Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, for example, have proposed a massive overhaul by adding high-density housing to the mix.
“You have a lot of malls that once they lose their key anchor tenants really need to totally reinvent themselves,” Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes said.