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Does online shopping spell an end of an era for traditional American malls?

by AirTalk

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A shop employee (C) walks past boutiques at a shopping mall in Beijing on September 11, 2011. LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images

American malls are palaces of consumerism, but those of us who have visited the Americana or the Grove know them as a bit more than just that.

Sure, they are a one-stop destination where you can get the latest in fashion and whatever else your heart desires, but they are also social spaces where people can gather and hang out without having to necessarily open their wallets. Take for instance, the legion of septuagenarians that use the Glendale Galleria on Sunday mornings as the location for their leisurely strolls.

This very American invention is under threat. Rick Caruso, the California mall magnate behind the Grove and the Americana, sounded the alarm in January at the national Retail Federation’s annual convention in New York.

“Within ten to fifteen years, the typical U.S. mall, unless it is completely reinvented, will be a historical anachronism—a sixty-year aberration that no longer meets the public’s needs, the retailers’ needs, or the community’s needs,” he said.

Online shopping is largely to blame. Online sales hit 6 percent of total retail spending in the fourth quarter of 2013, nearly double since 2006.

Are malls really going the way of dinosaurs? When was the last time you shopped at a mall? For avowed online shoppers, is there anything a mall can do to bring you back?




Lisa Cavanaugh, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the USC Marshall School of Business

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