Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Shopping Mall Turns 60 (and Prepares to Retire)

Shopping mall
Shopping mall (Photo credit: pix.plz)
Gruen’s idea transformed American consumption patterns and much of the environment around. At age 60, however, the enclosed regional shopping mall also appears to be an idea that has run its course (OK, maybe not in China, but among Gruen’s original clientele). 

By Dunham-Jones' count, today about a third of USA's existing malls are "dead" or dying. That’s not to say they’re mostly vacant. But they have dreadful sales per square foot. High-end dress stores have moved out, and tattoo parlors have replaced them – "things," Dunham-Jones says, "that would normally be considered way too déclassé for a mall."

About a third of the malls are still thriving, and those are the biggest, newest ones. But America is no longer building many new highways, which means we’ve stopped creating prime new locations for mall development. Some of the earliest amenities of the enclosed mall – air-conditioning! – no longer impress us. And the demographics of suburbia have changed dramatically. Malls draw the largest share of their customers from teenagers, and the baby boomers who largely populate suburbia no longer have teenagers at home.

Read this interesting article by Emily Badger on how the dynamics are changing and she does not take into account the changing dynamics of e-commerce & increasing trend of showrooming which would haste this trend.

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