What Happens If Barton Creek Mall Closes?

Sep 1, 2015
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./KUT

In some U.S. cities, shopping malls are a thing of the past. For the malls that are surviving, about one-fifth have vacancy rates that experts consider "troubling.”

Austin's own Highland Mall went that way: It recently closed and was converted into a community college campus. But what about the city's other big indoor mall?

Despite retailers offering Thanksgiving hours and more online sales, Americans still nervous about the economy spent less this long weekend than they did last year, according to preliminary estimates.

But analysts say retailers will be working harder to boost sales in coming weeks by offering even deeper discounts.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon, KUT News

Grocery retailer Trader Joe’s is opening its first Austin store on Friday.

The store on Bee Caves Road is the first of three planned for the Austin region. A second location is planned downtown for the redeveloped Sealholm area. And today the chain announced it will open a third Austin location next year at the Arboretum Shopping Center.


Austin resident and UT grad Oliver Shuttlesworth had just returned home from a series of trips to Central America, but he couldn’t shake the stories he heard from people in the region.

“As I visited with the families I was working with, I heard a recurring theme: the desire for their children to receive an education and to create a better future than they enjoyed themselves,” Shuttlesworth says.

There was a "moderate increase" in American consumers' confidence this month, the private Conference Board just reported.

Its widely watched consumer confidence index rose to 73.7 from 73.1 in October. The index is the highest it has been since February 2008, when the economy had just fallen into recession and was headed down.

Horrific is a word that quickly comes to mind about the news from Bangladesh concerning a fire Saturday in a garment factory where clothes were made for retailers around the world, including some in the U.S.

Here's how The Associated Press starts its latest report:

UPDATE: This blog post was updated on July 16 to include that NPR also sells shirts through Urban outfitters.

It's not difficult to find an Urban Outfitters store these days, but it's understandable that if you don't have a 16-year-old daughter, a penchant for owl-shaped drawer pulls or a belief that you look great in scarves, you may never set foot in one.

Mike Martinez,

A new Whole Foods opened in South Austin this morning, the second location of the Austin-based chain to open within the region in as many months.

The original Whole Foods market opened in Austin in 1980 with a staff of only 19 employees.  Today its Austin locations number four, out of 310 locations internationally.

The store will reflect the “laid back, at home feel of the South Austin community” store team leader Steph Steele said in a statement. The store aims to provide “an intimate community grocery store experience,” Steele added – a seeming contrast to Whole Foods' bustling flagship location downtown (now complete with  self-driven shopping carts).

Photo by Beth Cortez-Neavel for KUT News

Well, our robotic shopping cart overlords aren't here just yet. But a partnership between Austin-based Whole Foods and a local tech firm may lead us a step closer.

Computing giant Microsoft recently demonstrated a “smart cart,” wired to a computer tablet and a Microsoft Kinect motion sensor that can follow shoppers around the store, check items off a shopping list, and, as the video below shows, even make corrections if you select the wrong item.

Microsoft doesn’t mention who made the cart, but news outlets like Wired point to Austin-based Chaotic Moon Studios. Chaotic Moon has previously tweaked Kinect technology; at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year, it unveiled the “Board of Awesomeness,” a Kinect-connected skateboard that can travel at up to 32 mph.

Wired says Whole Foods is currently testing the carts at stores in Austin, and will launch a broader trial run in April.

Highland Mall empty
Image courtesy Kari Sullivan

Calling it an "underperforming" location, Macy's has announced it is closing its struggling Highland Mall location and eliminating 125 jobs.

"Associates displaced by the store closing may be offered positions in nearby Macy’s stores where possible," Macy's said in a statement you can read below. "Regular full-time and part-time associates who are laid off due to the store closing will be provided severance benefits and outplacement assistance."

Macy's says a final clearance sale at the Highland Mall store will begin on Sunday will run for about ten weeks.