The 922 closures in malls are 4.7 times more than the numberthat were announced during the first two months of last year, whilethe 983 in strip centers are 1.8 times above those during the sameyear-ago period. These figures are also 30% higher than theindustry's annual five-year average.

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But closures so far are on par with other recent years. Forexample, ICSC says there were 5,769 store closings in 2004, and theorganization predicts 5,700 for all of 2008. It says 6,890 storesshut in 2001.

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"While we don't ignore the possibility that we may be on thecusp of a consumer-led recession and things could get worse fromhere, so far the closings do not look alarming or entirely out ofthe ordinary," the Banc of America report says. "And in our viewshould not have a long-term impact on occupancy."

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Retailers announcing closings in 2008 have run the gamut ofsectors. Some recent ones include 105 units by jewelry chain ZaleCorp., 75 stores by discounter Fred's and 150 locations by apparelretailer Charming Shoppes.

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