American malls getting radical facelifts as pandemic fades and department stores close
Shopping malls were losing business even before the pandemic and in the past couple of years, many department stores have shut down. Now those empty spaces are getting a facelift try to bring in new business.
Malls struggling to attract shoppers as online shopping continues to grow – are ready to experiment. Shopping centers are hoping to find new life by adapting to consumers who want more than just shopping.
At Tyson’s Galleria outside Washington, D.C., a former Macy’s has been transformed into a new dining and entertainment wing – with options like bowling.
Brookfield Properties Executive Vice President Chris Pine says, “I think the consumer coming out of the pandemic is just looking … to be out and experiencing life in a more normalized way.”
In Rochester, New York, The Marketplace Mall is turning a shuttered Sears into a large healthcare facility — reimagining what a mall can be.
American Dream, in East Rutherford, N.J., may be a model for the “new” shopping mall: It’s got stores, but more than half the space is devoted to family attractions and entertainment, including a theme park with rollercoasters, a water park, and an ice rink.
American Dream Executive Vice President Jill Renslow observes that, “Shopping malls are evolving, and when you look at American Dream, this was part of the brainchild from the very beginning of creating an experience that was different.”
American Dream opened just five months before the pandemic, and the hope is traffic will pick up now that coronavirus cases are ebbing.
Stephanie Cegielski, of the International Council of Shopping Centers, says the strategy is offering an experience people can’t get online.
“We’re seeing everything from fitness, from gyms, from movie theatres … to educational facilities,” she says.