Another Mall Bites the Dust — How to Survive the American Retail Apocalypse

Deborah Goldfarb
4 min readJul 27, 2022

“Whoever said that money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to shop.”

Some of my most vivid childhood memories were…visiting the local mall, especially during the holidays. The family would get all dressed up, walk around the shops for hours and my mom’s constant nagging for us kids to be careful lest we accidentally bump into something that would catapult my family into financial ruin. Then my memories as a teenager hanging out with friends and my sister gossiping and gorging on Mrs. Fields Cookies, Wetzel’s Pretzels, See’s Candies or Popcornopolis. It was always something I looked forward to — the sights, touch, scents, sounds, and taste of the experience was just pure bliss for me.

During my recent trip back home to St. Louis, boy oh boy, have things changed. Instead of visiting the St. Louis Galleria or Chesterfield Mall, we hung out at Target, Walmart or Dierbergs (local grocery chain). I mean that’s a complete 180!

Thinking about it now-this trend dubbed as the American retail apocalypse has actually been going on for a while across the country. Of course, I had to take a closer look…and holy s**t Batman things have changed, not only because of the lingering impact of COVID… nope, an honest to goodness paradigm shift happened before our very eyes.

Here, check it out:

  • In 2017 there were 116,000 shopping malls in the US. Granted at least 65% were strip malls…but, still. Today, there are only 1,000 malls remaining.
  • During the same period, in 2017 there were 8,300 department stores. Consistent with the dramatic decrease in malls — -department stores have now been whittled down to 6,300 with another 25% reduction by 2025.
  • No new mall has been built in the US since 2006.

I mean WOW!!!

Although this is alarming, especially if you’re a retailer, property manager or mall owner-the signs have been there for quite a while. There are tons of converging reasons for this development, here’s some of the primary ones:

  • Amazon, Amazon, Amazon & the emergence of online and social shopping.
  • COVID happened…

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Deborah Goldfarb

Debbie Goldfarb is the founder of Biz Made EZ and is a well-respected marketing and branding consultant working with both small and large businesses.