35 haunting photos of abandoned shopping malls that highlight the impact of the retail apocalypse over the past decade

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri, closed in 2014, but the abandoned mall appears as if it’s been deserted for decades.

American malls are dying out and, as the online retail industry grows, the future of brick-and-mortar establishments continues to hang in the balance.

Retail complexes all over the US are being clobbered by store closures sweeping the country. In the past decade, online retailers like Amazon have flourished, while stores and shopping malls continue to close their doors or report a decrease in foot traffic.

On multiple occasions, Amazon has bought up former shopping malls and converted them into their own fulfillment centres, adding another level of intrigue to the decline of in-store retail in favour of online retailers.

At the start of the 2008 recession, 90 million square feet of retail space had closed. Then, retail closures steadily returned to the status quo in 2010. However, by 2016, the number of retail closures began increasing rapidly again, and as of August 2018, the U.S. hit a 10-year high in the amount of retail square footage officially closed down.

Retailers have announced more than 8,600 closings so far in 2019 and, according to a report done by Credit Suisse in 2017, between 20% to 25% of malls will close by 2022.

A national retail apocalypse has crippled US malls as anchor stores such as Macy’s and Sears, which take up large retail spaces and drive foot traffic, have shuttered stores and left malls with enormous gaps to fill. For many malls, this is an impossible task.

Take a look at some of these haunting photos below that show how badly America’s malls have been hit over the last decade.


This is the Carousel Mall in San Bernardino, California, which closed in 2017.

Lucy Nicholson/ReutersCarousel Mall in San Bernardino, California.

The mall had been hanging on by a thread after it lost its two main anchors, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney, several years earlier.

Lucy Nicholson/ReutersCarousel Mall in San Bernardino, California.

Source: Business Insider


San Bernardino is now considering 11 different offers for the redevelopment of the abandoned shopping centre.

Lucy Nicholson/ReutersCarousel Mall in San Bernardino, California.

Source: The San Bernardino Sun


Euclid Square Mall in Ohio, pictured in 2013, had a similar fate and shuttered in 2016.

Flickr/Mike KalasnikEuclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio.

It was temporarily used by religious congregations who held services in old stores.

Flickr/Mike KalasnikEuclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio.

Source: Cleveland


In September 2017, Amazon announced plans to build a 1.7-million-square-foot fulfillment centre in its place. That fulfillment centre has since opened.

Nicholas EckhartEuclid Square Mall in Euclid, Ohio.

Source: Crain’s, Scene


Photographer Seph Lawless has become famous for his photos of abandoned malls. In 2016, he captured Chicago’s Lincoln Mall, which closed in January 2015.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: Seph Lawless


In its heyday, the 700,000-square-foot mall had the capacity to host four anchor stores and 100 smaller shops.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: Business Insider


But in the months before it closed, it was home to just 40 businesses.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


In 2013, the mall’s owner told The Chicago Tribune that the mall was losing $US2 million a year. The same year, a court-ordered receiver was appointed to force the location to pay taxes and fines, as well as make necessary repairs.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


The mall’s tenants did not generate enough in rent to pay for the improvements or repairs, according to an attorney for the owner.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source:The Chicago Tribune


The mall reportedly failed to make these changes, which included creating new exits to comply with fire codes and replacing electrical and air-conditioning systems.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source:The Chicago Tribune


In November 2014, a Cook County judge ordered the closure of the mall following the holiday shopping season. The mall was demolished in 2017.

Seph LawlessLincoln Mall in Chicago, Illinois.

Source: The Chicago Tribune


Lawless also captured the Metro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Seph LawlessThe exterior of Metro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

The mall opened in 1976 and covered over 1.2 million square feet, housing more than 150 retailers.

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Source: Kansas City Star


The mall was shut down in 2014, but the decaying interior makes it appear as if it’s been deserted for decades.

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

The once-bustling mall is now completely run down.

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Lawless said it was “by far the creepiest mall I’ve been in.”

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Source: The Daily Mail


Developers had planned to renovate the mall, but the makeover was estimated to cost $US200 million. The plan was ditched in 2015.

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Source: Kansas City Star


The mall was finally demolished in 2017 to make way for a golf and entertainment complex. The developer also hopes to build a new hotel, health club, and specialty grocer in the area.

Seph LawlessMetro North Shopping Centre in Kansas City, Missouri.

Source: KSHB


Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, was once packed with visitors but faced a similar fate as many other malls when it closed its doors in 2008.

Flickr/Mike KalasnikRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Lawless visited in 2012 to capture these haunting photographs that show how the complex was left to rot.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Source: Seph Lawless


The inside of the mall was crumbling and covered with snow, left exposed to the Ohio elements.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

In June 2016, the city deemed it unsafe for locals, issued warnings for people to stay away, and increased police presence after it gained a reputation for being a crime hotspot.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Source: Business Insider


Multiple deaths occurred on the property after the mall was abandoned. Perhaps most horrifyingly, the body of a likely murder victim was found in the woods behind the building.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Source: Business Insider


After several rounds through the bankruptcy courts, the property was acquired by the city of Akron.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Source: Cleveland


In 2016, the Rolling Acres Mall was demolished. In 2018, Amazon purchased the property for $US600,000 from the city of Akron with plans to build a new 700,000-square-foot fulfillment centre.

Seph LawlessRolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio.

Source: News 5 Cleveland, Business Insider


These eerie photos were taken of Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia, in 2011.

Flickr/Will FisherCloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia.

It was the area’s first large-scale, regional shopping centre, but the mall officially closed in 2008.

Flickr/Will FisherCloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia.

Source: Chesterfield Observer


Once a buzzing hub, the inside looked completely barren and was littered with decaying plants and debris.

Flickr/Will FisherCloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia.

In 2011, the building was demolished and replaced with a Kroger supermarket.

Flickr/Will FisherCloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia.

Source: KLTV


Hawthorne Plaza in Los Angeles, California, closed its doors in 1999. In July 2011, Chris Cognac took these photos while performing a security check with workers working on partial demolition inside.

Chris CognacHawthorne Plaza in Los Angeles, California.

Since the mall closed, it has been used as an appropriately spooky spot for filming some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including “Gone Girl,” “The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift,” and “Minority Report.”

Chris CognacHawthorne Plaza in Los Angeles, California.

Source: Business Insider


Today, it is just a shell that’s covered in graffiti and crumbling away.

Paul Szoldra/Tech InsiderHawthorne Plaza in Los Angeles, California.

In 2016, drone enthusiasts transformed the space into a drone-racing track, where people could race their remote-control drones around the building while it was lit up in fluorescent lights.

Paul Szoldra/Tech InsiderHawthorne Plaza during the Drone Racing League race.

Source: Business Insider


However, these pop-ups were short-lived. Later that year, the city of Hawthorne agreed to demolish the building and replace it with a $US500 million open-air development, but that still hasn’t happened.

Paul Szoldra/Tech InsiderHawthorne Plaza during the Drone Racing League race.

Sources: Curbed, Daily Breeze

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