Seeking Xanadu, Shopping Malls Find Purgatory Instead

Waning consumerism, economic downturn take toll on uniquely American institution
By Amelia Atlas,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2008 4:28 PM CST
Seeking Xanadu, Shopping Malls Find Purgatory Instead
Last year was the first in a half-century in which not one shopping mall opened in the US, Newsweek reports.   (Getty Images)

An American institution—the shopping mall—is slouching toward extinction, Newsweek reports. With a record number of retail outlets, including ubiquitous Gap and Foot Locker, planning closures, roughly 20% of the 2,000 largest malls are failing, says one professor, leaving the fate of developing mega-malls like New Jersey’s Xanadu unclear. No new malls opened nationally last year for the first time in 50 years.

In addition to the recession, environmentally conscious consumption and urban repopulation threaten mall-based retailers. A rising class of “socially frugal” consumers are learning to make do with less, leaving malls to rebrand themselves with low-cost shopping options. Other malls are refashioning themselves as “lifestyle centers,” integrating retail centers with condos and parks to tempt hesitant shoppers.

(More mall stories.)

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