Today I read in ICSC’s Shopping Centers Today Weekly that Simon Property Group, one of the largest shopping mall owners in the country actually posted a 28.6% increase in net income. I almost stopped breathing. How was that even possible in this economy?? Well, to hear their CEO David Simon tell it “we recognized well over a year ago that the economy was deteriorating and adopted aggressive cost control measures, significantly reduced our development spending, and enhanced our liquidity position.” In short, they cut costs.

As a commercial district manager, you are in an excellent position to help facilitate discussions between merchants about cost savings measures. When times are good, businesses may shy away from cooperative spending because of the perceived hassle – so now may be the right time to suggest cooperative ways for businesses to share costs and facilitate the contracting of services. When every penny counts, businesses may be more willing to share expenses like office supplies, office equipment, software, printing, shipping, bookkeeping/order processing, etc. They might also be more interested in participating in sales events that help them clean house and get rid of their discontinued or distressed inventory.

Another idea is to see if you get them to share the costs of a professional cleaning service for the inside of their stores. We often talk about getting a street clean to attract customers – but what happens on the inside of the store is just as critical. So now might also be the time to help a critical mass of businesses hire a cleaning service to clean up, organize, and re freshen their inventory and store, making your district as a whole more competitive.