What is a Dead Mall?

Some malls, called dead malls, are considered obsolete.

Dead malls are malls that are past their prime. While it was once a thriving shopping mall, a dead mall often has an increasing number of empty windows and a sharp reduction in the number of shoppers shopping at stores that remain in operation. Several different elements can contribute to the gradual deterioration of a once-thriving mall, including changes in the economy and a change in the composition of the neighborhood around the mall.

Malls tend to thrive when anchor stores remain.

One of the first signs that a mall is starting to turn into a dead mall is the loss of one or more anchor stores. An anchor store is usually a large department store that serves as one of the main attractions in the mall. Many malls will have two to five anchor stores strategically placed around the cluster of smaller stores that meet at the center of the mall layout. When anchor stores choose to relocate, consumers have less incentive to shop at the mall. As sales drop, smaller stores start moving or closing. The end result is that the mall falls from grace and begins to die.

Empty storefronts are a big part of dead malls.

The origin of the dead mall may have to do with changes in a city’s demographics. As growth begins to take place on the outskirts of the city, other malls and malls spring up to provide shopping opportunities for the fast-growing areas. A mall located in a part of the city that is not growing will begin to stagnate. As the city’s wealthier population begins to move away from the shopping area, the surrounding area changes. Crime rates sometimes increase, which serves as another deterrent for consumers and store owners located in the mall. If the trend doesn’t reverse, stores and shoppers start to withdraw, leaving a mall dead.

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Not every dead mall ends up being destroyed after all the stores leave. In some cases, an abandoned mall can be purchased by a local municipality and turned into an office space. A dead mall is sometimes taken over by new owners and converted into a huge flea market.

A dead mall is sometimes called a greyfield. Essentially, the gray fields are already developed sites with plumbing and electricity services. Even if the dead mall is demolished, new buildings can be constructed using the utility connections that are already installed on site.

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