Westfield America Trust first quarter 2002 operations update – presented by Peter Lowy
Countries: United States
Mall shop leases totaling 383,000 square feet were signed for the quarter at rents averaging $47.95 per square foot, representing a 33.3 percent increase over expiring rents. Additionally, the Company signed 22,000 square feet of ‘big box’ leases at rents averaging $21.02 per square foot. Mall shop space was 94% leased at the end of the quarter, compared to 93% at March 2001.
At March 31, average mall shop rents were $35.58 per square foot, a 5.1 percent increase over the same period last year.
Total specialty store sales of $750.5 million increased 0.3 percent, and comparative store sales per square foot were down 0.9% for the quarter. It should be noted that the first quarter sales decline was overstated due to a retail calendar aberration in January resulting in many retailers reporting four weeks of sales in 2002 compared to five weeks of reported sales in 2001. Specialty store sales for March increased 4.9% and were positively affected as Easter fell in March this year compared to April last year.
Consumers are clearly still cautious, due to rising energy costs, trouble in the Middle East and a weak labor market, unemployment is now at 6.0%, the highest in 7 years. We still expect sales to continue to strengthen in the second half of 2002.