If You See a Mall Today, Hug It

Image via Getty
Image via Getty

The death of the American mall, the great social cesspool of broke window-shopping teens and nostalgic first dates, has been dragging out for some time now. The latest estimate is that about one-fourth of the malls that exist in this country will be gone within five years.


The number of expected mall closings is between 20% and 25%, according to a Credit Suisse report cited by The Los Angeles Times, which “predicts e-commerce will continue to pull shoppers away from bricks-and-mortar retailers.” Of course online shopping is a culprit, as department stores like Macy’s and J.C. Penney shutter faster than a 14-year-old You running around the juniors department desperate to find a good cool pair of affordable jeans that won’t flatten your butt and looks like what all the other cool girls are wearing before you lose your mind!!!

As you’ve been reading about for the past few years, various retailers are becoming endangered species:

Clothiers including American Apparel, Bebe and BCBG Max Azria have filed for bankruptcy. The report estimates that around 8,640 stores will close by the end of the year.

Retail industry experts say Credit Suisse may have underestimated the scope of the upheaval.

“It’s more in the 30% range,” Ron Friedman, a retail expert at accounting and advisory firm Marcum said of the share of malls that he predicts will close in the next five years. “There are a lot of malls that know they’re in big trouble.”

There’s a silver lining here in that revamped shopping centers are reportedly popping up in place of the stale malls we used to know and frequent by ourselves on a lonely weekend, hoping to run into Justin outside Aeropostale, his favorite store.

Paula Rosenblum, co-founder and retail analyst at RSR Research, believes the report overstates the risks, and says lower-tier shopping centers in particular would bear the brunt of the blow.

“The problem with a lot of these studies ... is they look at what’s dying, they don’t look at what’s being born,” Rosenblum said.

But analysts agreed that to survive and stay relevant, malls need to make serious changes.

These replacement malls will have to appeal to the teens of today in part by expanding beyond selling clothing, boy-band posters, electronics and food court food you save half of for later when you’re back in the basement of your parents’ house laying on your bed and waiting for one of your two flaky friends to call you back on the new cordless phone you just bought at the mall with your last bit of allowance.

Culture Editor, Jezebel


To me the failure of these malls has a lot more to do with the failures of sub-urbanization of the 50's and 60's then it does with online sales. (See Robert Moses) The simple fact is most of these malls were built for a population who loved cars, didn’t care to much about pollution, and didn’t mind driving 20-30 minutes to go shopping. Also outlet malls give you a better price on average, so if your going to drive for a deal, chances are it won’t be a mall.

There is a place for the mall when it is close to an urban area.