Why Joe Biden thinks America’s great mall isn’t worth saving

Shopping malls had been in decline for years, but the pandemic saw seismic change.

Americans stuck at home have turned heavily to online shopping, and many will not be returning to the mall.

The convenience of having it all in one place has been replaced by having it all on one screen.

Vacancy rates in shopping centers hit 11.4% in the first quarter of 2021, the largest increase on record, according to Moody’s Analytics.

Last year, retail sales of mobile phones increased 31.5%. A similar leap is expected in 2021. It is a far cry from half a century ago, when the concept of a shopping center took off as Americans drove en masse on the road.

Malls have evolved around so-called “anchors” – department stores like Macy’s, Sears, and JC Penney, of which other smaller ones have benefited from proximity.

“It would have been much better if American Dream had burned down.”

Architects built increasingly massive complexes, culminating in the Mall of America in Minnesota, which was the world’s largest mall when it opened in the 1990s.

More recently, China has built three larger ones.

Down but not quite out

They are still under construction in the United States. A gigantic $ 5 billion mega-mall called “American Dream” – which includes an indoor ski slope and took 16 years to complete – opened 10 miles west of Manhattan in October 2019. However, it was just in time to be hit by the pandemic which bankrupted scores of stores.

As one mall manager put it, “It would have been a lot better if American Dream had burned down or had a hurricane hit it, financially, because we would have been covered by insurance.

To add insult to injury, Amazon is now buying space at bargain prices in abandoned malls across America, and using them as so-called “distribution centers” or “last-minute warehouses.” kilometer “. This allows Amazon to position goods closer to where they need to be delivered.

The internet giant has so far taken over about two dozen malls, including a 3.4 million square foot one in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, another in Knoxville, Tennessee, and the Greendale Mall in Massachusetts.

At Landmark Mall in Virginia, a fleet of Amazon pickup trucks currently use the weed-covered parking lot. The geese must waddle around them.

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Peggy P. Gilmore