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By Tim McLaughlin BOSTON (Reuters) - Bargain store chains are flooding into North American malls and shopping centers like never before, upstaging old mainstays like J.C. Penney and Sears that are reeling from the one-two punch of an ailing economy and competition from online stores. "We're seeing a seismic shift in retail shopping centers," said Garrick Brown, director of research at real estate firm Cassidy Turley. Commercial real estate rents are rising, and many retailers, especially bargain chains, are in better shape than they have been since the Great Recession in 2008, analysts say. Shopping center vacancy rates in 60 major U.S. markets fell to 8.6 percent at the end of last year from 9.5 percent a year earlier, reflecting 38 million square feet of occupancy growth, according to Cassidy Turley research.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says that if Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn't back down in Crimea, he will face penalties from the West that will hurt the Russian economy and diminish Moscow's influence in the world.