The next wave of mall tenants could be softgoods catalog retailers. That's the prediction of Lois Huff, senior vice president of Retail Forward. In a new report, Huff says escalating postal and printing expenses, plus diminishing apparel prices, will encourage these companies to open mall outlets.

Online sales have already cut costs for these merchants — gift food retailer Bear Creek Corp., for example, saves $4.60 for each order placed online, rather than through its catalog call center. But only 4 percent of all non-automotive retail shopping occurs online. Huff says softgoods catalog retailers will be looking to storefronts to grow. “It's purely an opportunity issue,” Huff says. “They can only grow so far with catalogs and online because they're selling things that need to be touched, felt, tried on.”