Back when I was a teenager, my social life revolved around the mall. Shopping, eating out, going to the movies – there wasn’t anything that couldn’t be done at the mall. These days I maybe go to the mall once a month, if that. Oh, how times have changed. Nowadays people shop online, they order in food and subscribe to Netflix; it’s sad to say but we just don’t seem to have as much of a need for the mall like Cher Horowitz from Clueless did in the ‘90s.
Retail consultants have come out with a startling prediction: within 10 years, they foresee 15 percent of U.S. malls being converted into non-retail spaces, and they also predict that half of America’s shopping malls will close within the next 15 to 20 years. According to Howard Davidowitz, the chairman of retail consulting and investing bank firm Davidowitz & Associates, Inc., says that all of the middle-level stores like Sears, Macy’s and J.C. Penney are slowly shutting down one by one due to the fact that they no longer make sense. Since 2010, Sears has closed 300 stores, including its Chicago flagship, while Macy’s is in the midst of closing five locations and J.C. Penney is closing down 33.
According to an article by Business Insider, when a mall has two or more major anchor stores closing around the same time, that is typically the beginning of the end. Or as Cedric Lachance, managing director of Green Street Advisors says, “That’s typically the beginning of a downward spiral leading to ultimate extinction.”
States that have been hit the hardest by the mall phenomenon include New York, Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. For the malls that shut down entirely, they typically tend to stay vacant for approximately 8 years before being redeveloped into community colleges or health care facilities. For the malls that are just losing a few shops here and there, the owners are planning to replace their soon-to-be vacant spaces with more movie theaters, restaurants and stores like Ross and TJ Maxx, which offer discounted items to shoppers. Davidowitz does point out, however, that business is improving for higher-end malls, and he predicts that only upscale shopping centers with stores like Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue will survive.
While I am glad to hear that my favorite luxury retailers won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, it is slightly saddening to hear that some of my favorite childhood haunts are shutting down one after another. First it was Blockbuster, then it was that little Mom and Pop store down the street from the house I grew up in, followed by that local restaurant that everyone ate at, and the list goes on. But in the long scheme of things, that’s just survival of the fittest doing what it naturally does. And the rest of the world has to go along with it.
After all, you can’t fight evolution.