American Eagle Outfitters CEO expects ‘Roaring 20s’-like boom for malls post-pandemic

American Eagle Outfitters CEO Jay Schottenstein said Thursday that the U.S. shopping mall “is not dead” and that the decade is shaping up to be a boon for business.

The apparel retailer anticipates extending its double-digit comparable sales growth streak to 27 quarters and retaining its position as a leader in denim, Schottenstein said in a CNBC appearance.

“We’re very excited, you know, about the future of the mall,” he said in a conversation with Jim Cramer on “Mad Money,” “and we think that when things get better and the pandemic goes away … we can be looking at the ‘Roaring 20s’.”

Schottenstein is one of many hopeful figureheads who predict the current decade will mirror the growth of a century ago. Consumer spending, spurred in part by the latest round of stimulus checks, surged nearly 10% in March, the latest positive sign of economic expansion and growing confidence.

“The sales we’re doing, like this quarter, … all the stores are comping and we’re doing it at a 50% capacity,” Schottenstein said.

The comments come one day after the Pittsburgh-based retailer said business for the fiscal first quarter is exceeding projections, driven by government economic stimulus and pent-up demand, especially for jeans. Shares of American Eagle Outfitters hit new highs, continuing a rally that kicked off in late March.

The company’s stock has climbed 29% since March 24.