BELLEVUE, Wash.—The nation’s high-end malls are posting record sales, thanks in part to the growing presence of technology retailers that sell pricey goods.

At Bellevue Square, a shopping center in this affluent Seattle suburb, electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc. produced sales of $5,500 per square foot last January, more than five times the mall’s average and at a pace the mall’s owners say is likely a U.S. record for any retailer.

At a time when some big department stores are struggling and Internet shopping is on the rise, the mall industry is doing surprisingly well. Sales have risen each year since the recession, from $383 per square foot in 2009 to an estimated $478 in 2014, says the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Malls owned by real-estate investment trusts, which tend to have more luxury tenants and often are located in large population centers, generated a record $550 in per-square-foot sales in the third quarter of 2014, shattering the previous high of $450 a square foot reached in 2007, according to REIT research firm Green Street Advisors.

No one tracks sales per square foot across all retail stores. But landlords say a big driver of malls’ recent resurgence has been a new generation of technology-focused tenants, such as Tesla, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Inc., that are ringing up strong sales and supplanting “anchor” department stores that malls used to rely on to bring in customers. Tesla and Apple declined to disclose figures for their stores. Microsoft couldn’t be reached for comment.

“They do very high volumes,” said Peter Lowy, co-chief executive of Westfield Corp. , of the high-tech tenants. Westfield has 16 Apple stores, six Tesla locations and six Microsoft stores in its 38 U.S. malls. ”Your company’s sales per square foot are really boosted by those tenants.”

General Growth Properties Inc., the nation’s second-largest mall operator, said Apple’s rollout of the iPhone 6 was a main driver of its 6.7% increase in September monthly sales. Without Apple, sales would have risen only 4%, Chief Executive Sandeep Mathrani told analysts in October.

Some traditional mall anchors like J.C. Penney Co. and Sears Holdings Inc. are in a prolonged slump. J.C. Penney suffered a per-square-foot sales decline of 30% from 2010 to 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, according to investment bank Imperial Capital. Sears doesn’t report average sales per square foot, but sales at stores open at least a year have fallen by a cumulative 12.1% since 2010, according to investment bank Evercore ISI.

Yet for malls overall, the trend is moving the other way: Sales per square foot among mall REITs are up 36% since 2010, according to Green Street. That is a sign that mall owners are pruning their portfolios of less-productive properties while filling vacant spaces with more-productive retailers, including high-tech tenants.

The new tenants tend to be far more profitable for malls than anchor stores because, under typical lease agreements, they are required to share a percentage of their sales with their landlords.

Anchor tenants, by contrast, typically own their spaces outright, though they often contribute fees to help maintain common spaces. They serve mall owners mainly by attracting shoppers to the smaller retailers between the anchors, known as “inline” stores.

Investors have benefited from malls’ resurgence. In all, REITs that own regional malls produced a total return of 35% in 2014, including dividends, according to the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, second only to apartments and health-care properties among the big REIT categories.

Read more: High-End Malls Get Boost From High-Tech Stores

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