Are Large Regional Malls Dead?

By Bruce Firestone | Uncategorized

Apr 06

Maybe. Maybe not.

I read this morning in the Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/04/05/the-troubles-at-the-american-mall-are-coming-to-a-boil/?tid=pm_business_pop&utm_term=.162bbecad2ff that America is way overstored (it apparently has the most retail square footage per capita of any nation) and online shopping is undermining physical locations. Furthermore, millennials are abandoning large department stores in favor of smaller boutiques.

So are large regional malls dead?

Maybe not. 

Here’s (in part) why:

-until you can get your teeth drilled on the internet, you are still going to see your dentist in RL, real life or RS, real space

-so the mix of stores will change–fewer ladies shoe stores (perhaps) and more services like dental, medical, fitness, yoga, accounting, finance, banking, spa, hair salon etc

People forget that one of the reasons you go to a mall is for speed and efficiency–buy food, pharmaceuticals, clothes, shoes, sports gear, gifts, and so forth in one place, fast. You can also visit a government department, get a passport application, send a package, do some banking, get a mortgage, whatever in one place.

You can probably do most of that online too, but I’ll bet it would take longer to visit 12 web services than to whip around the mall to visit 15 stores.

The other “solution” is also to repopulate these places–let folks live in the malls and hook up giant apartment and condo towers built next to them.

I’d get rid of or go underground with all those acres of parking, and build 10,000 units next to a regional mall I owned. In cold weather places, I’d link them directly, via underground passages.

What about living in a mall itself? Sound like a zombie apocalypse film? Sure.

But if you are a lawyer, artist, tax preparer, photographer, consultant, realtor, whatever, maybe you want a store in front and apartment behind?

Just saying.

@ profbruce

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