World Business News

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A dying breed: The American shopping mall

Zone(s): USA ¦ Sector(s): Retail Economy

[29 June 2014, CBS News]  By Mark Strassmann, from the USA: America’s love affair with shopping malls began in 1956, when the nation’s first fully-enclosed mall, Southdale, opened its doors outside Minneapolis.  “This was the most exciting period in this economy,” said Robin Lewis, author of The New Rules of Retail.  “In the mid-’50s Dwight Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act, and they constructed 54,000 miles of interstate highway. Now, what that did immediately is it provided mobility for the population, which, prior to that, had been mainly rural. So they began to move into the suburbs and cities. But also, what it afforded was the ability to construct these regional malls, and they just exploded across the country.”

Between 1956 and 2005, about 1,500 malls were built, including the Mall of America, one of the world’s biggest – 4.2 million square feet of stores, an amusement park, even a wedding chapel. And it attracts millions of visitors each year, from all over the world. It was a Golden Age of shopping, which lasted until a new Golden Age came along, courtesy of the Internet. “All of a sudden, the consumer now has every single retail store throughout the world a key tap away,” said Lewis.Today, malls across the U.S. are dying. No new enclosed mall has been built since 2006, and Lewis predicts fully half of all our malls will close in the next 10 years.