Can they survive in the 21st century?
For one analyst, the opening of a new enclosed mall is akin to watching a dinosaur traversing the landscape: It’s something not seen anymore. Dozens of malls have closed since 2011, and one study predicts at least 15 percent of the country’s largest 1,052 malls could cease operations over the next decade. Retail analysts say threats to the mall range from the rise of e-commerce to the demise of the “anchor” department store. What’s more, traditional malls do not hold the same allure for today’s teens as they did for Baby Boomers in the 1960s and ’70s. For malls to remain relevant, developers are repositioning them into must-visit destinations that feature not only shopping but also attractions such as amusement parks or trendy restaurants. Many are experimenting with open-air town centers that create the feel of an urban experience by positioning upscale retailers alongside apartments, offices, parks and restaurants. Among the questions under debate: Can the traditional shopping mall survive? Is e-commerce killing the shopping mall? Do mall closures hurt the economy?
Dunham-Jones, Ellen, and June Williams, “Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs,” John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Two architecture professors call on urban planners, architects, developers, environmentalists and local governments to repurpose abandoned shopping malls and other suburban relics instead of razing them and bulldozing green space to build new structures.
Hardwick, M. Jeffrey, “Mall Maker: Victor Gruen, Architect of an American Dream,” University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004. A historian of American culture follows the life and accomplishments of Austrian-born Victor Gruen, widely credited as the architect of the American shopping mall.
Lewis, Robin, and Michael Dart, “The New Rules of Retail: Competing in the World’s Toughest Marketplace,” St. Martin’s Press, 2014. Two retail industry experts explain how, in an age of technology and globalization, retailers need three competencies to survive: an ability to anticipate and respond to changing consumer demands; a deep connection with consumers; and control of the “value chain,” the activities taken by the manufacturer, warehouse, carrier and supplier of a product as it makes its way to the consumer.
Scharoun, Lisa, “America at the Mall: The Cultural Role of a Retail Utopia,” McFarland & Co., 2012. A founder of the Cross-Cultural Design Lab at the University of Canberra in Australia regards the American shopping mall as more than a place to buy goods; it’s also a primary place for community and social interaction to which consumers have a spiritual and emotional connection.
Ajudua, Christine, “The World’s Coolest, Most Cultured New Malls,” The New York Times Style Magazine, July 27, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Rothbort, Scott, “What the death of the American mall means for investors,” MarketWatch, Nov. 19, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Schwartz, Nelson D., “The Economics (and Nostalgia) of Dead Malls,” The New York Times, Jan. 3, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Sinclair, Nicole, “5 retail groups that will survive the death of the mall,” Yahoo! Finance, Nov. 12, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Reports and Studies
“Industry Conditions: Shopping Centers: Where Americans Buy, Socialize, Play and Work,” International Council of Shopping Centers, May 19, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
“Shopping Centers: America’s First and Foremost Marketplace,” International Council of Shopping Centers, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/
“U.S. Mall Outlook,” Green Street Advisors, Jan. 26, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Hanchett, Thomas W., “U.S. Tax Policy and the Shopping-Center Boom of the1950s and 1960s,” American Historical Review, October 1996, http://tinyurl.com/
Ortega, Lauren E., “The Rise of the Mall,” Columbia University, 2012, http://tinyurl.com/
The Next Step
Abrams, Rachel, and Sapna Maheshwari, “Macy’s to Close 100 Stores as E-Rivals and Discounting Hit Legacy Retailers,” The New York Times, Aug. 11, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
D’innocenzio, Anne, “Anchor stores go chic to shed big box image,” The Philadelphia Tribune, Aug. 16, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Peterson, Hayley, “A new report signals disaster for American shopping malls,” Business Insider, April 25, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Johnson, Lauren, “Walmart Buys Ecommerce Startup Jet.com for $3 Billion to Compete Online With Amazon,” Adweek, Aug. 8, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Thomas, Brad, “Simon Says: ‘Malls Far From Extinct, Safe From E-Commerce For Now,’” Forbes, April 26, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Von Bergen, Jane M., “E-commerce is driving retail employment,” Albuquerque Journal, Aug. 16, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Gustafson, Krystina, “Americans aren’t done with outlet malls just yet,” CNBC, Aug. 22, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Lam, Bourree, “Why the Biggest Big-Box Stores Survive,” The Atlantic, May 11, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Sloan, Katie, “Outlet Centers Are Morphing into Lifestyle Centers,” Rebusiness Online, Feb. 16, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Reuse and Revamping
Del Rey, Jason, “A giant shopping mall company is turning to 10 startups to breathe new life into retail,” Recode, Aug. 1, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
Semuels, Alana, “A New Life for Dead Malls,” The Atlantic, March 9, 2015, http://tinyurl.com/
Wahba, Phil, “New Mall Cements Lower Manhattan as a Luxury Retail Mecca,” Fortune, Aug. 16, 2016, http://tinyurl.com/
1331 L St., N.W., Washington, DC 20005
A leading commercial real estate information and marketing provider.
907 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10010
A consumer behavior research and consulting firm founded by author and retail specialist Paco Underhill.
Green Street Advisors
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A market research, data and analytics firm specializing in research on real estate investment trusts, or REITs.
International Council of Shopping Centers
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The global trade association of the shopping center industry.
J. Rogers Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises
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A firm specializing in equity research and financial and management consulting for the retail sector.
National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts
1875 I St., N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006
The global trade association for REITs and publicly traded real estate companies with an interest in U.S. real estate and capital markets.
National Retail Federation
1101 New York Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20005
The world’s largest retail trade association representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 other countries.
Urban Land Institute
2001 L St., N.W., Suite 200, Washington, DC 20036
A nonprofit research and education organization that focuses on land-use policy and practice.