For the denizens of suburbia — particularly youth with few good options for hanging out in public space — there’s still nothing quite like the mall. Malls aren’t quite the cultural force they once were, like in the 80s when they were the central staging for so many teen movies, but malls are malls.
Greg Burns at The Chicago Tribune (via David Bodamer)notes optimistically that the Mall of America in Minnesota is a “big exception” to the woes of most shopping centres. It’s a major tourist destination due to its size and amenities, like an indoor amusement park.
The problem, though, is that what’s good for the mall is not necessarily good for the mall’s tenants:
The giant shopping centre was swarmed with visitors on a hot, sunny weekday, roaming the indoor theme park, lining up six deep at the register of Aeropostale, sampling mascara with the aid of black-suited beauty consultants at the Bare Escentuals makeup boutique.
Crowded? “It always is,” said Tim Hermeling, who grows corn and soybeans in the small community of Iona, Minn.
But he and his wife noticed a difference on this trip into town: No shopping bags.
“If you look around, there’s not too many packages being carried,” Laurie Hermeling said, pointing out that her five daughters were limited to a stuffed animal apiece. “We have cut back on unessentials.”
This isn’t just the story at the Mall of America. Other analysts have noted a disconnect between store traffic and store purchases. We’re guessing the Mall of America still feels pretty festive. At other malls, it’s probably just youngsters scampering around the food court, flinging packets of ketchup at each other, while trying to evade mall security. That’s not so festive.
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