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After a good run of several decades, the traditional mall appears to be giving way to a different concept—though calling it new might be a bit misleading, considering that it harkens back to even older notions of communities and downtowns.

blue escalator in motionThe shift is the result of several convening trends. Whereas the mid-twentieth century saw people fleeing urban locations for suburbs, today many people seek the convenience and entertainment aspects offered by downtown locations. If they are going to drive to a mall, they want a similarly expansive offer that gives them an opportunity for entertainment and socializing, rather than just shopping. Accordingly, the new versions tend to be referred to by names such as “lifestyle centers” or “town centers,” reflecting their role as a replacement of a traditional neighborhood focus or downtown location.

The modern mall thus looks more like the Main Streets of yore, with service providers (e.g., barbers, dog groomers, dry cleaning) intermingled with retailers selling a range of goods, from clothing to food to children’s train rides. Many of these facilities feature at least some outdoor elements, including sidewalks to facilitate strolling, as well as attractive installments such as fountains that allow people to enjoy nice weather when it is available and interact with others.

Discussion Question:

  1. Where will people shop in the future?
  2. How is this similar to or dissimilar from the past?


Source: Bernice Hurst, Retail Wire, April 17, 2015