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| Education and Financial

03/24/14

Shopping mauled: Traditional malls might be closing for good

Not long ago, the mall was the place to be. Today, it's the place that seems to be on its way out.
Kids congregated in the food court, moms and dads hit Sears, JC Penny and other cornerstones of the mall in search of clothes, electronics and tools.
The last seven years or so haven't been so kind to America's shopping malls. Social media supplants actually being dropped off to meet your friends at the mall. Movie theaters might still be an option, but most moved out of malls year ago, and those aforementioned heavy hitters like Sears and JC Pennys are closing stores and cutting jobs left and right.
To drive home this point, consider this: no shopping mall has been built since 2006, and a decent percentage of them have been tabbed to close in the coming years.
So why exactly are malls dying a slow death?

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Finding the exact reason why the mall is limping through the 2000s can't be narrowed necessarily down to just one, but rather several key factors play into the demise of the mall concept. One that is easy to pinpoint is the rise of the internet and the convenience of buying online. Amazon and even eBay allow parents to skip the annoying drive to the mall, finding a spot and weaving in and out of mall traffic and instead purchase a plethora of items from their couch.
Kids in general may populate malls more so than adults these days, but that's typically only a Friday and Saturday night endeavor. Again, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media avenues have allowed young adults to communicate so much during the week that getting together on a Friday night just doesn't have the same appeal and draw it once did.
Even though stores like Wal Mart, Target and Best Buy aren't flourishing like they once did, they have taken a sizable chunk of business from the large scale shopping malls in recent years. These stand alone retailers that either specialize in one key offering (i.e. Best Buy and electronics) or are an eclectic mix of super stores or markets (Wal Mart and Target) that make shopping malls seem horribly outdated and passe.
Stores like Wal Mart and Target, among others, market price as their point of differentiation, while shops that are housed inside a shopping mall typically can't keep pricing at that type of level, most likely because they're paying a hefty price for that "premium" space.
That so called prime real estate is hardly worth the price of admission these days, and some skeptics have suggested malls eventually will be something you tell your grandchildren about and will cease to exist.
Given the ongoing trend and the lack of new malls on the horizon, that point is hard to argue.

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