A struggling mall in Virginia has replaced storefronts with vending machines

Hundreds of retailers are closing stores, peppering shopping malls across the country with darkened storefronts.

One mall in Richmond, Virginia, has tried to get creative with some of its shuttered stores in a likely attempt to distract shoppers from the vacated spaces and keep traffic flowing to its remaining tenants.

The mall’s distraction of choice? Vending machines.

The owners of the mall, called Regency Square, have erected a temporary wall and an ice-cream vending machine in front of what was previously an entrance to the mall’s now-closed Macy’s store.

Dying mall Regency Square

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Not far from the former Macy’s, an entire storefront is covered with with a Pepsi ad and two vending machines.

Dying mall Regency Square

Business Insider/Hayley Peterson

Next to the Pepsi ad, the mall has placed a floor-to-ceiling ad for the acne treatment Proactiv, along with a vending machine where customers can purchase Proactiv’s products.

The vending machines are effective at brightening up what would otherwise be a darkened store.

But there are only so many vending machines to go around. In other parts of the mall, storefronts remain empty.

The mall’s owner, a joint venture of Virginia-based Thalhimer Realty Partners and the Rebkee Company, are planning to completely redevelop the struggling mall starting in April in hopes of reviving business.

Their redevelopment plan, which was recently approved by the local government, involves tearing down a two-level parking lot to make room for new retail space like outdoor dining and entertainment, according to WTVR.

The plans also call for raising the roof of the former Macy’s store, reportedly to make room for a movie theatre or indoor trampoline park.

Like countless other malls across the country, Regency Square has been hit hard by the rise of ecommerce and a broad-based shift in spending away from clothes and accessories and more toward restaurants and experiences.

Mall-based retailers have been shutting down stores and in some cases going bankrupt as a result.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,500 store closures have been announced by companies including JCPenney, Macy’s, Sears, American Apparel, HHgregg, The Limited, and Abercrombie & Fitch.

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