Lakeland suffers blow after anchor store at city's only indoor mall announces it's closing

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jan 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-05 17:26:11-05

There will soon be one less place to shop in Lakeland. Macy’s announced Wednesday a long list of stores it is closing nation-wide, including one at the Lakeland Square Mall.

Now many question if the city’s only indoor mall can survive another tough blow.

“I absolutely hate it. I love this store,” said shopper Diane Nicoletta, as she left the store on Thursday.

The Lakeland store is one of 68 nationwide the chain plans to close this year. Locally, it means nearly 70 workers will be out of a job.

“I feel really bad for all of those people who worked there forever,” said Shellie Smith, who stopped by just to see if the store was still open.

For the city, and specifically the mall, the announcement comes at a bad time.

A little more than a year ago, another major store there, Sports Authority, announced it was closing less than a year after it opened.

And there are more empty stores inside.

“I would call it a disappointment,” said Lakeland Mayor Howard Wiggs.

Wings remains confident the city can attract another company to fill the void.

But he’s fully aware that malls nationwide are struggling. One study out last year suggested that a third of the county’s malls are on the brink of death, and losing an anchor store is not a good sign.

“We’ve seen malls that have not done well in the past, as you know in some areas malls are not doing good at all. The model has changed a bit. So we don’t want it to sit idle,” Wiggs said.

Inside the store on Thursday, it appears Macy’s is already marking items down. Big sales are expected to begin Monday and may last for the next eight to 12 weeks before it closes for good.