Shopping malls aren’t dead — just different

From pickleball to doctors’ offices, the malls of tomorrow will look a little bit different.

We’ve been reading headlines about the death of the shopping mall for the better part of the last decade.

A Black man, woman, and little boy smiling and walking, holding shopping bags.

But here we are in late 2023, and the malls are still standing. So what gives?

Per Axios, small shopping malls are now taking a page from the megamall playbook, where experiential offerings — like the Mall of America’s aquarium and American Dream Mall’s water park — have already become a staple.

With mall vacancy at the highest level it’s been for 15+ years, evolving offerings might be the only way to survive.

In place of Auntie Anne’s and Claire’s…

… malls are using entertainment and lifestyle experiences to attract foot traffic.

  • Georgia’s Macon Mall is home to a pickleball facility and a 10k-seat outdoor amphitheater, and will soon house government office space.
  • South Park Mall in San Antonio plans to add a bowling alley, arcade, bumper cars, and a luxury movie theater.

And some local governments are placing big bets on the power of such attractions.

City officials in Grand Island, Nebraska, are putting $250m into revamping the Conestoga Mall, considering options ranging from hotels and bike trails to entertainment complexes.

It’s not all fun and games

While the shopping industry might be faltering, the global health care services market has ballooned to ~$8B — and malls want a piece.

Empty storefronts are increasingly being filled with doctors’ and dentists’ offices or full-fledged health care facilities, bringing patients as well as medical staff to the premises — all of whom could potentially use the facilities, eat in the food courts, and shop.

Speaking of not-fun things: Coworking companies are also finding homes in empty malls to lure hybrid workers, like Industrious, which took up residence in Arizona’s Scottsdale Fashion Square.

This is great and all, but we all know who the real mall MVP is: The Cheesecake Factory.

Topics: Shopping

Related Articles

Get the 5-minute news brief keeping 2.5M+ innovators in the loop. Always free. 100% fresh. No bullsh*t.