- Shopping malls are having a rough time right now – some are calling it a “retail apocalypse.”
- But it wasn’t always this way. The ’90s were a great time for malls and mall-goers alike.
- These vintage photos show how much malls have changed since their ’90s glory days.
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Ah, the ’90s. Everything seemed much simpler then, including shopping. Now that we have the entire internet at our disposal, it can be overwhelming to try and find exactly what we’re looking for – we have too many choices. And without smartphones and streaming, it was also the best way to kill time and hang out with friends.
Take a stroll down memory lane to see how much fun malls used to be in the ’90s.
Malls started becoming shopping Meccas in the ’80s, but by the time the ’90s rolled around, they were a full-blown phenomenon.
Before the internet, malls were the only place where you could get gadgets from Sharper Image, clothing from Limited Too, accessories from Claire’s, and a sticky, delicious Cinnabon all in one place.
People would go to malls and spend their entire day there.
The hottest spot in middle school and high school was the mall.
Food courts became local hotspots.
Food court staples like Sbarro, Auntie Anne’s, and Panda Express never tasted better than under the glow of fluorescent lights.
Teens around the country became “mallrats.”
Walkway T-shirt stalls were a mall staple.
Walking the aisles of a video store and browsing a seemingly endless selection of VHS tapes was the perfect way to spend an hour or two.
Video stores are now all but extinct due to the rise of streaming. FYE, one of the most famous video stores, has been steadily closing locations across the country, and Blockbuster only has one location left – in Oregon.
Malls were a great spot to keep up-to-date on the latest in tech.
There are some things you’ll only remember if you were born before the internet.
Even ’90s icons would stop by the local mall to do signings and meet fans.
This is something that’s held on through the decades, with teen sensations like Justin Bieber ane One Direction holding fan events through the 2000s.
Throughout the decade, malls leaned into going over the top in terms of décor, as opposed to the minimalism that’s in style today.
Random squiggly patterns and primary colours? It doesn’t get much more ’90s than that.
Primary colours were a hugely popular colour scheme in the ’80s and ’90s.
Tacky, themed restaurants like Planet Hollywood were all the rage.
There are now only six classic Planet Hollywood locations open today, and four resorts. There’s also a store-only location in Orlando, Florida.
The company has filed for bankruptcy twice, and has been forced to close dozens of stores.
Sears was super popular — you could find literally anything there.
JCPenney was also huge, but today the department store is struggling.
JCPenney sales are sinking, and mall-based department stores in general are dying.
One of the few malls to survive the “retail apocalypse” has been the Mall of America, which is just as crowded today as it was then.
According to CBS, the Mall of America receives more than 40 million visitors every year – more than Disney World.
It’s tough to say what the fate of malls will be, but it’s safe to say that it was never better to visit a mall than in the 1990s.
We’ll always miss those days.
- Read more:
- 20 years from now, retail stores will have ‘cold zones’ to put winter jackets to the test and facial scanners that recognise customers as they walk in
- Vintage photos from the 1980s show America’s shopping malls in their heyday
- The best shopping mall in every state
- Here’s what could happen to America’s hundreds of dead malls
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