On July 14, CNBC published a report from Lauren Thomas about the adaptability demonstrated by some mall owners in the wake of 2020 COVID-19 shutdowns. The report is important not only for business, but daily living!
Virtually all brick and mortar retail (short of home improvement and grocery stores) have suffered in the aftermath of the COVID-19. The stock of CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. had been suffering for some time due to the gradual, steady decrease in foot traffic at enclosed malls. On Monday July 20, shares in the Chattanooga TN based mall manager plunged by nearly twenty-five percent when Bloomberg reported their plans to file for bankruptcy.
Tanger Factory Outlet Centers, Inc. has an entirely different business model of operating open-air shopping centers, many located in popular tourist areas like Branson MO, Myrtle Beach SC, Phoenix AZ, Atlantic City NJ, etc. This disparate strategy has not sheltered Tanger from greatly reduced foot traffic, lower sales, the inability to collect full rents, and suffering stock price valuations during 2020
Brookfield Properties has not been immune to making concession to lenders on their mall properties during this year. However, the aforementioned CNBC article shows Brookfield Properties has looked at and embraced alternative plans by renting out their mall parking lots to become drive-in theatres. Rather than the typical empty spaces we have grown to expect at a mall, patrons are enjoying movies and virtual concerts…for a fee. These patrons do not spend as much as they once did inside the mall stores, but Brookfield is enjoying some return where others are not! This is true, because Brookfield Properties chose to adapt plans to the rapidly changing market rather than simply complain about the circumstances beyond their control.
I have recently watched four men in ministry, and their families, adapt due to changes beyond their control. Some years ago, one of these men and his wife had a daughter murdered by terrorists while she was serving Christ in the Middle East. While naturally devastated, they adapted and continued to serve. The other three men had the plans for their lives upended by cancer. The prognosis for one was terminal, but he and his family did not surrender. Through moments of anger and grief, they adapted to life and the options before them. They cried, they hugged, they visited friends, he told his usual corny jokes to all around them, and they celebrated life in the time before he rode his bike on ahead of them into glory.
The other two? They are undergoing treatment, and they are looking forward to each day. One of them had dreams of training other men for ministry and to mentor them into the ability to provide their own living through building furniture. The economy and the changes in his health made this dream impossible, but he and the family adapted. They are now building a business in graphic arts and website development. He recently took his laptop with him to a chemotherapy treatment. I cannot imagine getting the necessary coding done inside a hospital, but he is ADAPTING. Both of these two men are making encouraging, positive posts on Facebook that shine like God’s glory in comparison to constant grumbling and bickering of many on social media.
What about you and me? How will we respond to changes in life over which we have NO control? Acts chapter 16 and Romans 1 both show that the apostle Paul had to change his plans (not to mention being imprisoned at the end of his life). Paul was disappointed, but he didn’t surrender – he adapted. When we face changes, let’s adapt rather than surrender. God is still with us. The choice is ours!