Retailers Reconsider Malls
As more people have moved from rural and suburban areas into cities in recent years, retailers have followed, by relocating stores from malls to revitalized urban neighborhoods and mixed-used developments that combine residential units, offices, and shops. Some pundits have proclaimed suburban malls “dead destinations” and “concrete carcasses.” And, after a tough few years that saw many mall closures, real estate research firm Green Street Advisors estimates that a further 15 percent of existing mall stock will close or be repurposed within the next 10 years.
The surviving malls, however, have been transforming themselves into entertainment centers–and not just by adding movie theaters and more dining options. The Mall of America boasts a roller coaster, a Dallas-area mall features a Legoland, and a Houston-area mall recently opened what it claims is the world’s largest mall play area for children: Frolic’s Castle in Memorial City Mall provides a three-level, “interactive adventure” for up to 165 visitors at a time, and admission is free. As malls reinvent themselves as more than just shopping destinations, retailers are reconsidering the value of having a mall presence, even—or especially—where they’re not the main attraction.