America’s Changing Shopping Habits


It’s not unusual these days to hear of major retail chains filing for bankruptcy or selling off assets and closing shop. But the pace those announcements are hitting the media is staggering.

An ongoing trend, and one that directly relates to the decline of brick-and-mortar retail, is the decline of shopping malls.

Though the malls might still be crowded places during holidays and busy shopping seasons, the Wall Street Journal has an fascinating graphic that shows the various companies that have vanished from malls (or existence) over the years and how the continued loss of stores inside of malls has contributed to what are more like skeletons than malls today.

It’s not all bad news. Some mall properties have been repurposed for other uses. BizVoice® magazine in 2013 looked at new uses for empty malls.

But don’t place all the blame on online shopping. This Forbes article from September asserts that, contrary to what you might think, there will be more store openings than closings this year and more due to changing consumer habits (not just online shopping).

More people seek discount and convenience, as well as experiences (food, travel, etc.) over physical items, than before. From the Forbes article:

Consumers haven’t gone into hiding and they’re not spending less. They’re spending more and there are more new stores — but tastes have changed. One of the most important things about these changes is that they are happening faster than ever before. There’s lots of reasons for that and plenty to debate about it but there’s no way to avoid the constant adaptation that’s now required. Organizations now need to be able to process new ideas at a rate that’s faster and more efficient than ever before. If you’re a legacy retailer of any kind, it’s hard to change quickly enough and that creates an opening for more nimble competitors. It’s not enough just to have something new, it has to keep evolving. That’s a challenge both for younger companies as well as the established players and it will be for the foreseeable future.