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NEW YORK CITY-Store closings announced by retailers so far in 2008 are above average but not out of line with the same period in other recent years, according to a Banc of American Securities report. So far retailers have chosen 1,914 stores for discontinuation, split nearly evenly between malls and open-air centers, says the research note, which used information provided by the International Council of Shopping Centers.

The 922 closures in malls are 4.7 times more than the number that were announced during the first two months of last year, while the 983 in strip centers are 1.8 times above those during the same year-ago period. These figures are also 30% higher than the industry’s annual five-year average.

But closures so far are on par with other recent years. For example, ICSC says there were 5,769 store closings in 2004, and the organization predicts 5,700 for all of 2008. It says 6,890 stores shut in 2001.

“While we don’t ignore the possibility that we may be on the cusp of a consumer-led recession and things could get worse from here, so far the closings do not look alarming or entirely out of the ordinary,” the Banc of America report says. “And in our view should not have a long-term impact on occupancy.”

Retailers announcing closings in 2008 have run the gamut of sectors. Some recent ones include 105 units by jewelry chain Zale Corp., 75 stores by discounter Fred’s and 150 locations by apparel retailer Charming Shoppes.

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