The Decline of Shopping Malls: What's Behind the Disappearance?

It's no secret that online shopping is becoming increasingly popular, and this is one of the main reasons shopping malls are vanishing. People are now opting to shop from the comfort of their homes, and with such a wide range of products available online, it's easy to understand why. Schools are even relocating to malls; for example, some students are completing high school in a converted Macy's in Vermont. Analysts have noticed that these closures are having a disproportionate effect on lower-level malls, making properties like Lakeforest Mall a kind of ground zero for the changing retail landscape in the United States.

Land's End recently decided to place its new store at the midpoint, a recently reinvented hybrid shopping mall. According to the U. S. Department of State, in ten years there will be approximately 150 malls left in the country.

Nick Egelanian, president of retail consulting firm SiteWorks, told The Wall Street Journal this prediction. A quick search on Etsy reveals numerous unionic bumper stickers that say A Woman's Place is in the Mall. It's interesting to note that the building is less accessible as a library headquarters than as a shopping mall, but it's great to see it being used to serve people in need. The momentary joy that I felt when I saw happy families is the basis of the strength of the mall and the essence of its continued usefulness.

At their peak, malls were monuments to consumerism that also served as cultural references, inspiring films such as “Mallrats” and board games such as Mall Madness. From the conception of shopping malls in the 1960s when baby boomers moved to the suburbs, to the experiences and transformations of entertainment for millennials, successful malls have evolved to stay connected to the spirit of the time. My aunts, mother and I would meet at the Nordstrom cafe at the Arden Fair Shopping Center in Sacramento for lunch and gossip before buying anything in particular and being briefly but pleasantly enraged by the prices. An example of how a mall near my home in Pittsburgh has been transformed over 55 years to remain relevant is The Block Northway.

However, these specific investments are often at the expense of mall operators' lower-tier properties, and analysts say the gap between rich malls and poor malls is widening. Like design for children, which was the subject of my last book, malls were omnipresent yet under-examined and could be a little embarrassing as a subject of serious study. When finished, it will surpass Minnesota's Mall of America as the largest in the country in square feet. A mall empty of everything that turned it into what it was captures the imagination; this is why there are fascinating YouTube channels dedicated to this phenomenon and evocative photographs of sad piles of naked mannequins and empty corridors with tattered banners proclaiming EVERYTHING THERE IS TO GO waving in the dark.

But there was always a slight mismatch between this message and Americans' growing indifference to malls.