Tag Archives: shopping

The Death of the American Shopping Mall

Maybe it isn’t that American’s aren’t shopping at malls anymore but rather they are out of money.

“You came, you shopped, you dressed nice – you went to the mall. That’s what people did,” says Lawless, a pseudonymous photographer who grew up in a suburb of nearby Cleveland. “It was very consumer-driven and kind of had an ugly side, but there was something beautiful about it. There was something there.”

Gazing down at the motionless escalators, dead plants and empty benches below, he adds: “It’s still beautiful, though. It’s almost like ancient ruins.”

Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts. Some, like Rolling Acres, have already succumbed. Estimates on the share that might close or be repurposed in coming decades range from 15 to 50%. Americans are returning downtown; online shopping is taking a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar sales; and to many iPhone-clutching, city-dwelling and frequently jobless young people, the culture that spawned satire like Mallrats seems increasingly dated, even cartoonish.

According to longtime retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, numerous midmarket malls, many of them born during the country’s suburban explosion after the second world war, could very well share Rolling Acres’ fate. “They’re going, going, gone,” Davidowitz says. “They’re trying to change; they’re trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That’s it. This isn’t rocket science.”

Of course it didn’t help that they were built with no urban planning principles in mind.

For mid-century Americans, these gleaming marketplaces provided an almost utopian alternative to the urban commercial district, an artificial downtown with less crime and fewer vermin. As Joan Didion wrote in 1979, malls became “cities in which no one lives but everyone consumes”. Peppered throughout disconnected suburbs, they were a place to see and be seen, something shoppers have craved since the days of the Greek agora. And they quickly matured into a self-contained ecosystem, with their own species – mall rats, mall cops, mall walkers – and an annual feeding frenzy known as Black Friday.

“Local governments had never dealt with this sort of development and were basically bamboozled [by developers],” Underhill says of the mall planning process. “In contrast to Europe, where shopping malls are much more a product of public-private negotiation and funding, here in the US most were built under what I call ‘cowboy conditions’.”

Shopping centres in Europe might contain grocery stores or childcare centres, while those in Japan are often built around mass transit. But the suburban American variety is hard to get to and sells “apparel and gifts and damn little else”, Underhill says.

Same thing in the largely empty Confederation Mall.  The mall emptied out after rents skyrocketed in Saskatoon.  What used to be disposable income is now needed for rent.  In that way, malls are a reflection of the economic health of the surrounding communities.

The mall of the future

We won’t be shopping as much

As growing numbers of shoppers move online, European mall owners are looking to pull in customers by including services that can’t be replicated on the Web like hospital care and government offices.

Malls must become more like full-service community centers to survive in the face of a growing list of failed retailers like HMV and Blockbuster, property experts at the annual MIPIM trade fair in Cannes, France, told Reuters.

On the flip side of that retail revolution, the experts see big gains in warehousing as more goods are sent and returned via post.

“The days of the stand-alone mall are numbered,” said David Roberts, the chief executive of architect Aedas, one of the five largest practices in the world. The company has been involved in city masterplan projects in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

“In 20 years time you will find stores that sell books and DVDs replaced by sites that give people a reason to go the mall … art galleries, education centers and health and spa treatments.”

Florencio Beccar, fund manager of CBRE Global Investors European shopping centre fund, cited the recent purchase of a mall in Germany, saying the fact it included a large medical centre was “a big plus”.

“I once saw a clinic in a Brazilian mall where you checked in and are buzzed on a device when they are ready. In the meantime you go shopping,” he said. “With the ageing population in Europe you can see that happening more and more.”

I am not alone

Many men hate to shop for clothes so we shop in bulk.

I hate to shop. For the last 20 years I only shopped once every two or three years. I would go to the big and tall store and buy only what I could find in 20 minutes, tops – usually a few dozen briefs, T-shirts and sweaters. If there was time left, I would try on a jacket. Nothing needed to be perfect: just fit and be black.

Now I am buying African block-print shirts and pants in a riot of colors and patterns from an African street merchant. I visit him every few weeks to see what’s new. I buy 10 or 15 at a time.

via

Jordon Cooper Outfitters

Jordon Cooper Outfitters

One of the things that I enjoyed this fall was creating the series of Christmas Gift Idea posts that so many people criticized this fall.  While there was some negative comments, the response was overwhelmingly positive from complete strangers who really enjoyed those features and said it made Christmas shopping a lot easier on them.

While creating the guides, for every cool item I posted, there was ten or so that didn’t make the cut.  I didn’t really know what to do with it so I thought of creating a shopping section of the site but I didn’t want to clutter up the site that much for regular readers and at the same time, if you are looking for a great watch to buy, you probably don’t care about NFL highlights.  In the end I decided to split off another site to shop.jordoncooper.com.  For a lack of a better title, here’s introducing Jordon Cooper Outfitters.  It’s a weblog that I hope to update five days a week with products, links, and articles designed to inspire you to get out and do stuff, create stuff, or just change make the world better.  If you want to follow the site, you can subscribe to the RSS feed or follow the site on Twitter @theoutfitters

We’ll see how it goes.

2009 Christmas Gift Ideas

Since many of you are starting your Christmas shopping today (they call it Black Friday for a reason), I thought I would post together my Christmas gift ideas here and hopefully you find what you are looking for.  Good luck out there, you are going to need it.

We also took some time to look at Christmas Gift Guides from yesterday.