The Reinvention of the American Shopping Mall

The Reinvention of the American Shopping Mall

The nineties have been in a full-fledge comeback with everything from nostalgic TV shows to crop tops, jelly shoes and fanny packs gracing themselves at every trendsetters shopping list. While many are celebrating the rebirth of the nineties, not all are sharing the same fate. In fact, there is one 90’s (and 80’s) thing that has begun its slow death and there’s not enough Surge energy drink to revive it- the MALL. We’ve (and everyone else) have covered the decline of the great American mall and the changing retail landscape. But there’s more to it than just people choosing e-commerce over shopping in-person.

What’s Next?

Consumers are just not interested in spending a Saturday afternoon in an enclosed space riddled with the same generic stores and fast food court. So what have developers decided to do? The answer is to revamp existing malls into a destination. One city in which this is highly evident is in Los Angeles.

Westfield Century City (RIP Century City Mall) just completed an entire make-over to the tune of one BILLION dollars. The outdoor space is friendly, inviting and a place you’d actually want to hang out at. The storefronts mix contemporary and street wear brands with the staples like Bloomingdales and Nordstrom.  In addition, artistic touches such as murals and fountains make the place quite Zen. The food court is trendy with local and franchised eateries native to the area. The icing on the cake is it is the new home of the West Coast outpost of iconic Italian restaurant and marketplace Eataly.

This is just one example of many other renovations of malls across the country that have been plagued with declining foot traffic.

Just a Four-Letter Word?

It is one thing to spend large sums of money on renovations but it is all for nothing if “mall” remains in the name of the new shopping destination. Yes, mall is just a four-letter word, but apparently it is one associated with an outdated shopping experience. Business of Fashion reported on the state of shopping centers and in it Westfield co-CEO Steven Lowy confirmed irrelevance of the word saying, “The word ‘mall’ is a dated word.” “It’s been lost in the vernacular.” In addition, in an article from Fashionista, the author had an interesting anecdote in regards to writing about a few local malls,

“And after publishing stories about them, PR reps for not one but two major Los Angeles-area malls have sent me emails politely requesting that I use an alternative to the word “mall” as a descriptor.”

So now the word mall is more than just antiquated, it’s a PR crisis.

The rise of e-commerce has reduced foot traffic in the entire the brick-and-mortar retail sphere and it’s taking more than an Orange Julius or Cinnabon to get them out of the house. Apparently the new way to lure consumers out from behind the computer is a creating a place in which they can do more than merely shop. And don’t forget to change the name. There better not be a reference to a “mall” in sight.


Author:  Christine Duff

Christine wants to live in a world filled with cutting edge fashion, beautiful words and and an endless supply of leather jackets and boots. A product development grad of FIDM, she was the Editor-in-Chief of MODE Magazine where she reignited her love of storytelling. She has diverse experience within the industry with trend research, art direction and styling editorial spreads. She gained her most notable experience working in Los Angeles at the satellite operation for GQ and Vogue Thailand. Christine is passionate about social science and the role it plays in the consumer goods industry and apparel in particular.


Leave a Comment