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Future malls


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#1
funkervogt

funkervogt

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The retail industry, and malls in particular, are taking a major hit thanks to the pandemic, and it's an open question how many of them will survive. I just found this set of predictions on the matter, written by a career futurist: 

 

https://futuristspea...-shopping-mall/

 

I agree with him that the mall as a concept isn't going to die anytime soon, even if many individual retailers and malls will soon go extinct. His belief that the surviving malls will have new compositions of tenants (e.g. - more fulfillment centers, showrooms, and gaming centers) is likely to materialize, and in fact it's been my observation that American malls have been heading in that direction for a decade. 

 

I think we're soon headed for the extinction of the ailing, "not-upscale, small-and-midsize" mall that people were perfectly happy with in the 1980s and 90s, and we'll be left with a smaller number of "mega malls" that are one-stop-shops for a typical family's retail, entertainment, and even financial and medical needs. 

 

The futurist's prediction about the rise of malls comprised of "mobile businesses" is much less convincing. He imagines a future mall being a central structure that RVs can "plug in" to, offering a shifting array of business types to the local people. It's really just an extension of the food truck concept. 

 

While it sounds interesting and plausible in theory, I doubt it will be profitable in practice. If food trucks are any indication, the competition will be cutthroat, vendors will fight for access to the best locations, and poorer places will remain chronically underserved. The retail experience will also be inferior in most cases if the business is restricted to an RV-sized store rather than a typical mall space, which has several times the floor space.  



#2
funkervogt

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Here's a timely article about how residential complexes are replacing ailing malls. This is happening to a midsize mall near my town. 

 

“Before the Great Recession we had too many retail spaces; now we have way too many retail spaces,” says White. “It may be we’ll only be left with the A malls. Before the pandemic, I thought the B-plus malls would survive. The outdoor lifestyle centers will survive — they’re perceived as safer than indoors. But it’s hard to escape the fact that we’ve trained people to fear the world, and that it’s going to have long-term impacts on their behaviors.”

 
Converting commercial real estate to housing may be the best use of land in such an over-retailed country. Big shopping centers tend to be centrally located and connected to transit. Hunter sees excess retail space at malls becoming more adaptive, and filling uses that aren’t hospitality focused, such as residential, or even flex or warehouse space. During a time of housing shortages, Lake believes that transforming empty commercial buildings is a “moral imperative.” 

https://www.bloomber...ls-into-housing






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