A Possible Future For (Some) Dying Shopping Malls

The Wall Street Journal on U.S. shopping malls getting less attractive:

An era of relentless expansion for American shopping centers is coming to an end as a toxic brew of overbuilding, the rise of e-commerce and a wave of retailer bankruptcies force landlords to reimagine once-lucrative properties.

Some owners are converting struggling malls into apartments, offices and industrial space, while others are turning big chunks of retail space into parks and playgrounds to keep shoppers interested.

“You have to create an environment that people want to come to,” said Tony Ruggeri, who eliminated about 50,000 square feet of retail space to create an open-air plaza at West Manchester Town Center in York, Pa., which reopened last year.

By year-end there will be 48.3 square feet of retail space per person in the U.S., down from the record of 49.8 set in 2009, according to real-estate data firm CoStar Group Inc. This year marks the sixth consecutive annual drop, and CoStar forecasts declines through at least 2020.

There are a lot more simple consequences and second order effects like this going to come with the ongoing seismic shift from brick and mortar retail to online retail.

One interesting question here is wether shopping malls or parts of shopping malls could be used as locations for online retail events like Zalando’s coming version of the fashion fair “Bread & Butter”. The Wall Street Journal:

“The country is just littered” with obsolete retail space, Mr. Lichter said.

More and more of the biggest online retailers are experimenting with events from online only to mixing online and physical.

At one point over the next years -but not yet- there will be demand for service providers using shopping malls and other now obsolete retail spaces to offer locations all over the country to enable online retailers to organize local events with a consistent experience.

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