The Death – And Life – Of The American Mall

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Malls in motion.  Once the supertankers of America’s retail economy, now shutting down or going luxury.  Where malls –and our economy—are going.

A surreal still image from the closed and abandoned Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, OH. (Via UrbanExplorationUS / Buzzfeed)
A surreal still image from the closed and abandoned Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, OH. (Via UrbanExplorationUS / Buzzfeed)

American malls – shopping malls – exploded with American suburban culture.  They had a big, long ride.  And now, they’re going in all kinds of directions.  Some are just coming down.  Meeting Dr. Dynamite.  Some are rotting in place, half dead and dragging communities down with them.  Some are going deluxe – luxury – and thriving, booming, with the one percent.  Selling Teslas.  And others are transforming. Knocking down walls.  Becoming villages.  Hosting zumba classes.  Church.  This hour On Point:  the American mall, moving up, down and sidewise.
-- Tom Ashbrook


Suzanne Kapner, retail and fashion industry reporter at The Wall Street Journal. (@suzannekapner)

Paco Underhill, CEO and founder of Envirosell, a behavorial research and consulting firm. Author of "Call Of The Mall," "Why We Buy" and "What Women Want." (@PacoUnderhill1)

Mark Falcone, principal at the real estate development firm Continuum Partners.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Atlantic: A New Life for Dead Malls -- "According to Ellen Dunham-Jones, an architect and professor at Georgia Tech, there are about 1,200 enclosed malls in the United States, and about one-third of them are dead or dying. That's because developers rapidly overbuilt malls in the 20th century, she said: The U.S. has twice as much square footage in shopping centers per capita than the rest of the world, and six times as much as countries in Europe."

The Wall Street Journal: Apple Gets Sweet Deals From Mall Operators — "Apple draws so many shoppers that its stores single-handedly lift sales by 10% at the malls in which they operate, according to Green Street Advisors, a real-estate research firm. That gives Apple the clout to negotiate extremely low rents for itself relative to its sales, while creating upward pressure on prices paid by mall neighbors who might not benefit from the traffic."

Los Angeles Times: Simon Property makes $16-billion bid for rival mall owner Macerich — "Mall operators have faced challenges in recent years from the sharp increase in online sales, the success of non-mall discounters such as Wal-Mart and Costco, and the loss of tenants through mergers or business reverses. Stagnating incomes contributed to declining foot traffic at mall retailers."

What You Said About Malls In Your Area

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This program aired on March 12, 2015.


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