Are malls dying in America?
Retail shops have been declining for a while. Many old go-to shops, like the anchor stores in malls around the country, are slowly falling by the wayside as online shopping takes a stronger foothold. Unfortunately, this is leading to the death of one of the most iconic pieces of American landscape – the shopping mall.
Malls were once a hub for the communities they served – today, many of these staples have gone under. Once bustling meeting places have since turned into an eerie reminder of simple, better times – and the decay of brick and mortar.
Credit Suisse Predicts 25% Mall Closure By 2022
COVID-19 hasn’t helped the situation. In 2019, over 8,600 stores closed their doors. According to Credit Suisse’s report from 2017, nearly a quarter of all malls in America will be closed by 2022. Add in today’s nightmarish scenes, and it’s quite likely the percentage of mall closures will dramatically increase.
The closures have led to a retail apocalypse of sorts, crippling malls around the nation. Anchor stores that malls have depended on for decades are closing their doors, and whether it’s due to COVID-19, loss of foot traffic, or both, these shuttered stores leave malls with large gaps unfilled.
And today’s shoppers, while a majority do their shopping online, some are looking for products beyond what the website highlights, and others simply want to physically feel products before they buy. For instance, if you’re looking for a lightweight computer to get for the kids to surf the net on, you can probably find something at the click of a mouse.
On the other hand, if you need a computer for your new work-from-home space, it’s likely you’ll need to check out specs, programs, and maybe even see how the keyboard feels beneath your fingertips, meaning a trip to the local mall.
But as anchor stores close and many states banning indoor dining and other activities that place people in close proximity, it’s leaving many malls wondering about their next move – many shuttering for good. Mall of America, an iconic fixture for nearly 30 years in Minnesota, could be next.
Why Are Malls Closing?
The rise of online shopping – and more individuals and families opting for downtown rather than the suburban life – had led to a decline in mall shopping in recent years.
As a pandemic began to shroud the world in fear and doubt, several malls around the nation boarded their doors. For instance, Northgate Mall in North Carolina has closed for good. It’s predicted that that over 30% of malls will follow suit by 2021.
As the pandemic swelled and lockdowns increased, fewer people were shopping than ever before. Once stores had to close by mandate, profits ceased and the ability to pay bills – rent is the biggest bill many retailers face – disappeared.
As retailers miss rental payments, mall landlords also cannot meet their obligations. For instance, Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest shopping mall owner, closed all of its locations in March 2020. By May 11, the company had reopened 77 of their over 200 locations.
They expect to open more locations as restrictions ease across the nation – however, with the current swell in cases in certain states, it’s uncertain when that will happen or if they will need to close again.
Will Malls Make a Comeback?
There’s a fine line between keeping a business afloat and ensuring the health and safety of its shoppers. The entire nation is at odds when it comes to reopening anything, let alone shopping centers. Stores are apprehensive about their next moves as public officials and experts continue to clash on what’s appropriate at this time.
Retailers want to revive their bottom lines. Sales fell sharply in March nearly 9% – the worst decline month over month in history. Every chain has taken a different approach – Nordstrom, for instance, permanently closed 16 of its stores but reopened several around the beginning of June 2020.
According to surveys, about half of respondents said they’d still shop for clothing in-store, but with many stores closing fitting rooms indefinitely or modifying fitting room procedures, it could prove a hassle.
Who Owns Mall of America?
Triple Five Group – owned by the Ghermezian family – owns Mall of America, the largest shopping center in the United States. TFG is a privately held company so stocks are not traded.
The floor plan is nearly 6 million square feet, boasts the Nickelodeon Universe theme park (once a Peanuts gang-themed park), and had 330 stores when it first opened in August of 1992.
The mall has since grown to over 500 stores – but which stores will remain considering the current climate remains to be seen.
Will Mall of America Survive?
Mall operators have been quoted as stating that the mall is a famous place to hangout and shop. They want to be able to return to normal after the current crisis has passed. The attraction that Mall of America has for so many Americans is precisely why management decided to close temporarily.
The mall has slowly been phasing their reopening but expects it’ll be some time before they see their average number of visitors – normally around 150,000 every day.
If you’re planning on visiting the mall now that they’re in the reopening phases, please be sure to check out these tips about visiting this tourist attraction. You’ll learn about the stores that are open, where you can eat, and even upcoming stores.
Along with social distancing and other measures, parking capacity has been reduced by half to help alleviate visitor numbers.
Because Mall of America is so much more than just a mall, it may not meet with the misfortune that so many other shopping centers have seen in recent weeks. And the Ghermezians have stated that, regarding their newest ventures, retail shops will not be the biggest draw – they’re going to focus more on the entertainment side of things as the nation strives to reach a new normal.
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