The Fate of Enclosed Shopping Malls in Tertiary Locations
Throughout the United States
The advent of the Internet has brought about a change in shopping patterns throughout the United States. In addition, another precipitating factor in the change in shopping patterns has been a recent large run-up in gasoline prices which make consumers think twice about driving 30 miles to shop for an item they can purchase on-line.
Furthermore, the demographics of the United States are changing as the baby boom generation ages and is replaced by the "Millennials" as the primary target for retailers. It appears that Millennials (those born in the late 1970's till the end of the 20th century) prefer lifestyle centers, where they can take in a movie and eat as well as shop, as opposed to strictly shopping in enclosed shopping malls. Additionally the "other" major demographic, Baby Boomers, also prefer the lifestyle center concept. These demographics are the target audience for retailers and modern society is rendering the enclosed shopping malls obsolete and not able to compete with newer retail concepts.
Is there life for enclosed shopping malls in tertiary areas of the United States?
These properties are generally located in close proximity to interstate highways and were built under the premise that Americans love to drive and shop. With changing demographics, these centers will have to adapt to lifestyle changes. What enclosed shopping malls have in their favor are that they generally have a superior location in a particular town and/or county and have often been a destination location for people in a particular region for the past thirty to fifty years or so.
Major components in favor of the re-tooling of the enclosed shopping malls are
The Baby Boomer generation is aging, becoming less mobile and are familiar with and often nostalgic about malls
Generation X'ers and Millennials are searching for people-oriented experiences to complement their often solitary experiences on-line
People, for the most part, like to congregate with other people and feel less alienated when they are socially interacting.
How can an enclosed shopping mall answer the needs of the general U.S. population?
First, housing components can be added to shopping malls to accommodate aging Boomers who need to be closer to day to day amenities like food shopping, restaurants, entertainment venues, physical therapy centers, health spas, continuing education programs and dry cleaners. These are services that are, for the most part, not associated with enclosed shopping malls.
The first step in re-assessing a particular enclosed shopping mall is to examine the existing housing needs of a particular community ( e.g., is their existing housing stock primarily owned or rental product,