Is The End of the Mall Really Coming???

Post 47 of 109

I keep hearing predictions that the modern mall will be gone 15 years from now.  In fact, a couple of months ago, the CEO of a major mall chain gave a keynote speech in which even he predicted the end of the mall as we currently know it.  As foot traffic at brick and mortar stores continues to drop, will there be no choice but to shop online?

Shopping mall









A couple of weeks ago, I read an article about the increasing number of store closings.

And we aren’t just talking about Barnes & Noble…

We are talking about store chains as big as J.C. Penney and Sears that sell product that won’t ever get usurped by digital versions.

We all need to wear and wash clothing, right???

The article talked about the costs involved with having a physical brick and mortar presence but we all know that one of the biggest issues facing retailers today is the rise of e-commerce.

Amazon is taking over.

It’s much easier to log onto your computer and order something in a few minutes vs. getting in your car and driving to the local department store.

One of the biggest reasons that people still go to stores at all is to touch and feel the product itself.

In recent years, we have seen the rise of showrooming in which consumers go to the store to investigate their purchase options and then go online to purchase the product at the best price.

The only other thing really missing is the immediate gratification of wearing that new dress or shirt tonight.

But in a few years, you’ll be able to buy something on Amazon and a drone will be able to deliver it to you that very same day!

So, is there a way to turn the tide and save brick and mortar malls?

I (and others) think it’s possible, but the real question is “How?”

Recently, retailers have started realizing that they can turn this online shopping trend around by delivering an experience or by offering added conveniences in-store.

Some new technologies like beacons will achieve both goals at once by “surprising and delighting” consumers while they shop and at the same time offering discounts and personalized information.

Other stores will match prices or send consumers personalized information in-store using location-based technologies such as GPS which encourages consumers to purchase on-site vs. going home to purchase online.

And some stores are implementing exciting new technologies like the Magic Mirror, which allows you to try on items virtually without ever taking off the outfit you walked in wearing!

Other tactics being used to address the immediate gratification/convenience/best price issues are the buy online, pick up in-store option, the buy online, return in-store option and the go to store and buy online with free shipping option; all ways to help consumers save money on shipping.

In light of all of these new options and advancements, I think malls still have a fighting chance.

Tell us what you think in the Comments below…

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  • Steve Hutchinson

    I think back 30 years ago, and there were just a handful of magazines. And they were really good publications. Twice as thick as today. Journalism at its’ finest. You know the ones: Life, Sports Illustrated, Cosmopolitan, Playboy, and a few others. And 20 years before that, there only 4 or 5. As categories matured, or as distribution has greatly evolved with the internet, you get more choices.

    Malls are in question today because a lot of the retailers, such as Barnes and Noble, Sears, JC Penney, the ones the malls could always rely upon for steady leases, are now selling a good portion of theor business around the mall, direct to consumer.Those retailers are still getting the business, they just are not paying retail rent to do it, thus they need fewer stores to satisfy fewer feet walking in their stores. Malls will evolve and consolidate for survival. I say evolve in that they will need to envision a future with a different mix of product. They will need to think about adding more entertainment and residential spaces. More mixed use for sure. They built a place close to my house in Huntington Beach called Bella Terra. It is mixed use, retail, grocery, theaters, restarants, and now mid-rise condos. It is booming. Malls will either evolve or they will be out of business. The paradigm shifted and is not coming back. But if they evolve like Bella Terra, by the way Bella Terra replaced the closed/torn down Huntington Beach Mall, they can boom. Just like Bella Terra is booming now.
    I also think service will differentiate. Long forgotten, service is still valuable to many people. I still like gifts to be gift wrapped. I still like great service at nice restaurants. I still like to get my shoes shined at the airport. Sometimes I even want full service gas! In this way, I think retailers will need to reconsider adding services that differentiate. Small things go a long way in consumers minds. That glass of champagne you got at the clothes store pays for itself.
    One thing for sure happens when distribution channels shift; you get a lot more consumer choice. Cable TV provided a lot more channels to watch. Sometimes that is great, sometimes not so great. It is getting harder to produce quality TV with fewer revenue dollars concentrated. Now, the viewership is so spread out, the advertising revenue that follows it gets pretty thin. So thin, that I actually wish we could consolidate Cable TV to 15-20 channels of favorite shows. At least that way we could get back to quality.
    So, the malls that change shall survive, I’m pretty sure. To do so, they need to think what product mix, what retail mix, what service mix, what entertainment mix, etc will it take.

    This is a very interesting topic. Thanks for sharing.

    • jenerositymktg

      I am so glad that you found it interesting, Steve, and I agree with you 100%. Thank you so much for sharing for your thoughts and personal experience!