Malls, Consumer Culture on the Outs?

Everyone is having a hard time in this recession; retailers have it worse ["How To Tell When a Mall Is in Trouble," usnews.com].

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Everyone is having a hard time in this recession; retailers have it worse ["How To Tell When a Mall Is in Trouble," usnews.com]. I think and believe it would be in the best interest for everyone if the owners of these malls reduce the rent for their current and prospective tenants. If they do not we will see more stores closing and no new ones opening, because who could afford the high rental costs? This in turn would cause the mall to lose money and in the end have to close because of their greed.

Comment by Michael Zenzen of CA

The only time of my life when I visited malls routinely was in the '90s when I was a teenager ... that was where teenagers hung out, and they didn't buy much. In my adult life a visit to the mall is a once or twice annual event, literally. Some retail is healthier than others, but in general it seems that the birth of the Internet ushered in the downward spiral of the "mall" concept. The mall is an experience (more nostalgic for some than others). But how long can the experience keep people coming when you can buy things for a fraction of the price online from some little town that you would have never known existed if you hadn't been online?

Comment by Matt S. of VA

Think about your location and locale, every city is different. Some are more yuppie and very high end with places like Abercrombie and Nine West but some areas aren't like that. Take the Savannah Mall in Savannah, Ga., for example. Its anchor stores are a Dillard's for the high end, Burlington for clothing, Target for cheaper fares and all sorts of shopping needs, and a Bass Pro because of the large popularity of boating, hunting, and fishing in the area. There are also stores that support the popular college football team which everyone loves, a craft store for scrap booking, art supplies for the art school kids, and a Christian book store for the religious types in the city. There are also many small popular stores like Claire's, Rave, Victoria's Secret, etc. Food courts have added to the locale with a Cajun café and a sports bar themed sub shop mixed in with the usual fast food. I think if more malls would look into what the shoppers want and make some switches they might survive a bit longer.

Comment by Stacey of GA

The party's over. The credit cards are gone, along with our ability to live above our means. The malls were successful because we've long entertained ourselves buying things—the mall was a fun day of buying, eating, and seeing a movie—all paid for with credit. The malls prospered as we rented storage units for all the worthless crap we bought. This was middle-class America playing affluent. Now, as seen by the list of high-performing malls, only the truly affluent are keeping the malls alive. This is a "correction" happening now, and I don't see the U.S. ever going back to the days of spending for entertainment. Not unless Obama brings good jobs back to America, paying well enough for families to actually live, not just exist.

Comment by Kim Gomez of TX

I wish this interview wasn't with a guy who clearly has his interests invested in this chain of malls. The point of view was far too optimistic of our current economic situation. Malls are a huge symbol of America's consumer culture, one that he hints is rapidly changing. So why does he assume that malls will continue to thrive? His whole outlook on America's consumer psyche is outdated—for years, people were spending more than they had, and that is why malls like these, especially ones containing luxury retailers, thrived.

Comment by Juliet of MA

I noticed that a lot of malls near where I live have some pretty yuppie-ish stores like purse stores that sell ridiculously expensive merchandise. I don't know many people who go to these malls just because of the fact that everything in them is so expensive. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a purse, merely because it has a fancy name on it like Coach, I can go buy a purse that looks almost exactly like it at Wal-Mart or on the Internet for thirty or forty dollars. Maybe some of the companies who have stores in these failing malls should look at the prices of the things they sell. I really don't think a purse or clothing is ever worth five hundred dollars.

Comment by Michelle of PA

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