Andrew Burnstine – Retail Matters

The American mall is in a quandary. Stores are papered over and echos bounce around mostly empty halls. In the past decade, online shopping has taken a considerable bite out of in-person retail, leaving empty, palatial wastelands in its wake. Gone are the days of happy shoppers gliding across glossy floors with wide, stiff paper shopping bags in hand, while the smell of buttery pretzels wafts tantalizingly by.

The “dead mall” (also known as a ghost mall or a zombie mall) has even become a sort of local fascination. When Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield — one of the country’s most recognizable mall operators thanks to the word “Westfield” emblazoned on dozens of mall exteriors — announced in an earnings report in 2021 that it was effectively shutting down operations in the U.S., these institutions hit yet another tipping point. So what comes next for these giant mausoleums of the American dream?

Development companies are gobbling up beleaguered retail complexes across California, rethinking the very blueprint of what a mall should look like. Their ideas are lofty, from towering new structures that include housing, elevated dining and even hotels to more subtle shifts like added entertainment offerings and offices. Some are pushing for more radical changes, adding senior housing, pickleball courts and trampoline parks, and even local library branches.

What’s Next?


Download File
00:00 00:00
Download MP3
Welcome, Guest!
Download File