Death of the Mall: Fact or Fiction?

Authors: Tony Hernandez*, Ryerson University
Topics: Business Geography
Keywords: shopping centre, mall, retail
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This research historically examines the media portrayal of the shopping centre industry in North America. The timeframe of analysis spans the pre-to-post-pandemic periods. However, the focus of the research is on the prevailing media storyline in recent years. The media reporting in the last few years and particularly during the pandemic has been generally apocalyptic in tone, with dire predictions of the decimation of the shopping centre industry. Combining content analysis of media reporting with location-based shopping centre data, the paper attempts to deconstruct the elements of change within the shopping centre industry. The resulting analysis contrasts media sensationalism with data on investment and development cycles within the shopping centre and associated commercial real estate industry. The research looks to reposition the fatalistic 'death of the mall' narrative to a more nuanced and data-centric view of the 'evolution' of the shopping centre. The paper also looks at the potential trajectories for the shopping centre industry in a post-pandemic world. The scenarios are discussed in terms of the likely winners and losers in an industry that has, for many years, been corporately and geographically bifurcated. The paper concludes by identifying a number of critical areas for future research.

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