Los Angeles, CA

Is Your Neighborhood Shopping Mall Closing in 2022?

Joel Eisenberg

Multiple reports signal dire times ahead for the former stalwart.

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Closed MallShutterstock

Author’s Note:

This article is free of bias and based on corporate postings and accredited media reports. All linked information within this article is fully-attributed to the following outlets: The Los Angeles Times, CNBC.com, Google.com, CBInsights.com, GoBankingRates.com, and CBSNews.com.

Introduction

I received a text this morning that inspired this article. The text was from a close friend, who had since granted me permission to reprint it in full:

Malls selling and going extinct now, as everyone just does online shopping nowadays. They’re saying that within a few years they’ll be just like Blockbuster was (expired and just a memory). I really am concerned for what this country is becoming. Everything is too expensive for anyone to afford. Americans are becoming lazy; all of the things I grew up with are continuing to go extinct, and nothing is the way it used to be by any means. Kids don’t even play outside and have fun like we used to back in the day. Everyone is inside and on their smartphones and/or doing something that has to do with “social media,” and that’s literally what this world is about. Nothing feels the same anymore. Not even holidays. What gets me most though is that the Westfield Malls are for sale.

In context, my friend has suffered for many years from depression-related issues, and he was venting to me about why he was feeling down this morning. Specifically, a Los Angeles-based news report published the day before discussed the sale of a series of local malls owned by the same entity.

Clink link for “Westfield Malls Go Up For Sale as U.S. Shoppers Find Other Places to Buy,” written by Roger Vincent and published April 8. As excerpted from the article: The owner of Westfield malls, familiar to passersby for decades for their bright-red logo signs, plans to sell all its properties in the U.S. as pandemic fears have sped changes to how people shop. Among the company’s malls in the Los Angeles area are such high-profile properties as Westfield Century City, Westfield Santa Anita in Arcadia and Westfield Topanga & the Village in Warner Center.

This was all it had taken to trigger my friend. Unaccounted other Americans, expressing themselves as longtime fans of the U.S. mall experience (which is reportedly suffering a similar fate overseas) are similarly concerned, as a Google search engine query on the matter will verify.

Let us explore further.

The State of U.S. Shopping Malls, 2022

According to an August, 2020 Lauren Thomas report from CNBC.com, titled ”25% of U.S. Malls Are Expected to Shut Within 5 years. Giving Them a New Life Won’t Be Easy,” the situation during what was then considered the height of the Covid-19 pandemic appeared to be dire.

From the article: Coresight Research estimates 25% of America’s roughly 1,000 malls will close over the next three to five years, with the pandemic accelerating a demise that was already underway before the new virus emerged. The malls most at risk of going dark are classified as so-called B-, C- and D-rated malls, meaning they bring in fewer sales per square foot than an A mall. An A++ mall could bring in as much as $1,000 in sales per square foot, for example, while a C+ mall does about $320. 

Not much has changed since then, however. CBInsights.com maintains an regularly-updated listing of long-time stores — many regulars in shopping malls across the country — that are presently in bankruptcy. The term that has been popularized since the advent of Covid is “retail apocalypse,” which is described on the site’s timeline.

See here for the CBInsights page on the matter, and the regularly-expanding list of retail companies facing bankruptcy.

Without those stores, many malls simply cannot survive.

Conclusion

For another recent piece on the matter, see here for Michael George’s “American Malls Getting Radical Facelifts as Pandemic Fades and Department Stores Close,” as published by CBSNews.com.

In his article, George ties in so-called “retail apocalypse” issues with an attempted return to normalcy from the pandemic: Malls struggling to attract shoppers as online shopping continues to grow are ready to experiment. Shopping centers are hoping to find new life by adapting to consumers who want more than just shopping.

In describing the “facelifts” of his title, George refers to entertainment and sports centers also helping drive the U.S. mall business, which of late has been largely impacted by eCommerce.

To be clear, malls were losing business prior to the pandemic in part due to emerging technologies. An archived October 9, 2020 article by Gabrielle Olya, published by GoBankingRates.com, listed dozens of malls in the process of closing.

See here for the article, “American Malls That Have Fallen Into Ruin,” that offers a historical perspective of malls that have closed over the decades, and the reasons why.

Learning from those reasons are what mall owners are counting on today.

Thank you for reading.

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I am an award-winning author, screenwriter for film and television, and producer. My mission on News Break is to share socially important perspectives on both culture and pop-culture. Member of PEN America, and the WGA.

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