Malls and Shopping Centers Moving Towards Mixed Use Concepts in 2021
Many malls and shopping centers were already seeing a decline in foot traffic as a result of the rise in online shopping before COVID-19 lockdowns forced them to shut their doors. Traditionally, a large anchor store was the main draw for customers. However, since the pandemic, many anchor stores have begun the process of moving away from malls. According to the Major Malls and Shopping Centers Database, there was an increase in the number of anchor stores that closed last year representing approximately 25 million square feet of retail space. Clothing store chain American Eagle has announced plans to shut between 200 and 250 of its approximately 880 stores. These closures will mostly be mall-based locations. While Gap Inc plans to have closed 30% of its Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America by the beginning of 2024.
In response to the loss of traditional anchor stores, many malls have been looking at mixed-use concepts. This involves bringing in new facilities such as hotels, leisure activities, and healthcare clinics in order to position the mall as a new meeting place for the community. The Major Malls and Shopping Centers Database reports that 46.98% of US malls within the dataset can be classified as community centers while 14.42% can be classified as mixed use centers. Although malls and shopping centers may have to move away from the traditional format, it is clear that they still have a future in a post COVID-19 world.
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