Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources:
I remember the first time I went to a mall. Raised in a small town in the southeastern section of Alabama, I was amazed when I went to the “big city” mall in Montgomery. All the stores were under one roof. They were new and shiny. The venture became an adventure for me.
But that was fifty years ago. Things have changed. Things have changed significantly.
As Jeff Jordan notes in The Atlantic Cities, the future of American shopping malls is tenuous.
As Jordan says in his prescient article, the trends are gloomy for malls. Sales are down. Numbers of malls have closed or they are on the precipice of closing. Vacancy rates are up. Jordan notes “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.” He further provides data that indicate over 10 percent of malls will close in the next five years.
Of course, the declaration of the death of American malls is an overstatement or, at the very least, a premature obituary. Many malls will remain open; a number will remain viable and growing. Still, the trends are unmistakable and unavoidable. Only those who deny reality will fail to note the implications of this issue.