There's something nice about going into a well-maintained, well-thought-through shop -- indeed, there's a whole genre of fiction about this. But the dark side of retail is the sprawling American megamall, the original killer of the downtown and the mom-and-pop shop, which turned the public square into a private space and brought crushing sameness to the land.
So while we lament the Internet's deleterious effect on the friendly used bookstore, let's not forget to celebrate the its even harsher effect on malls:
A report from Co-Star observes that there are more than 200 malls with over 250,000 square feet that have vacancy rates of 35 percent or higher, a "clear marker for shopping center distress." These malls are becoming ghost towns. They are not viable now and will only get less so as online continues to steal retail sales from brick-and-mortar stores. Continued bankruptcies among historic mall anchors will increase the pressure on these marginal malls, as will store closures from retailers working to optimize their business. Hundreds of malls will soon need to be repurposed or demolished. Strong malls will stay strong for a while, as retailers are willing to pay for traffic and customers from failed malls seek offline alternatives, but even they stand in the path of the shift of retail spending from offline to online.
This in turn creates further opportunity for online commerce. If I were thinking of starting a new retail brand right now, I would unquestionably start it online.
[The Atlantic Cities/Jeff Jordan]
See also: DeadMalls.com