Friday, May 22, 2009

Dead Malls

The emptying out of America's malls offers another sign of our current economic mess. Kris Hudson and Vanessa O'Connell, writing for The Wall Street Journal, note that enclosed malls are a dying sector of consumer activity.
"Some analysts estimate that the number of so-called "dead malls" -- centers debilitated by anemic sales and high vacancy rates -- will swell to more than 100 by the end of this year [up from 40 in 2006]."
The authors add that this weakening, while exacerbated by the economic downturn, has roots in another industry trend: the shift away from enclosed malls toward open air "power centers," outdoor complexes anchored by stand-alone big box stores. Indeed Hudson and O'Connell state that an enclosed mall hasn't been built in the U.S. since 2006.

As traditional malls lose tenants, the results can be profound for their surrounding communities: "In suburbs and small towns, malls often are the only major public spaces and the safest venues for teenagers to shop, hang out and seek part-time work."

Naturally, the eerie emptiness of a once thriving urban space collects writers and photographer to document all that ennui. The WSJ cites as one site where their images and reflections may be found.

Read the article: Recession Turns Malls Into Ghost Towns

1 comment:

Bonnie said...

I read your blog and I've read other articles about the death of the enclosed mall and about how no one can buy anything because of the economic climate, but they must be talking about somewhere else.

Here, where the winter tourists have been gone since Easter, Countryside Mall is still jammed every day.

Last week, I just wanted to take my mom to Ruby Tuesday for lunch. I dropped her off at the door and cruised the parking lot for TWENTY FIVE MINUTES looking for a parking space. Finally I parked clear over at the end of the mall by Sears, far from the Ruby Tuesday entrance. The restaurant had a waiting line. And this was at 11:00, not even LUNCH TIME.

I drive past this mall every day when I go to work around 9:30 a.m. and it's jammed. I drive past this mall every day when I come home around 8:30 p.m. and it's jammed.

For your readers who aren't from this area, Countryside Mall isn't the only mall in this area. We have Clearwater Mall, which used to be enclosed and now is open air - and no one goes there. We have Citrus Park Mall, which is also enclosed and which is also jammed every day.

Maybe it's because this is the slow-to-change Old South? Maybe it's because the heat here drives us to indoor shopping instead of walking outside from store to store? Maybe these media news reports are grossly exaggerated? Could that be?