Smartphones are helping kill the mall
Have you heard? America's mega shopping malls are on the decline. The latest figures reveal that about one-fourth of the malls-of-yore left in the country will go the way of the Dodo within the next five years. But is anyone surprised? With the proliferation of so many at-your-door delivery services and online shopping rates at their highest, it appears that the modern way to window shop is with your smartphone.
Granted, there actually are a host of other reasons why shopping malls are no longer a Great American Staple, including the fact that many retailers have simply ceased operations. But I still can't help but wonder if the reason fewer people make it to the store is that there is simply no need when everything can be accessed at the push of a button.
You don't even have to talk to anyone
I'm so anxious to get started on remodeling, that I've taken to spending my evenings on the Galaxy Tab S3 looking for furniture in the Wayfair (opens in new tab) app, and "trying it on" in my living room with the included silly camera effect. It's easier than driving across town to the nearest furniture outlet to look at what's on display or having to endure IKEA, and I can do this all from the comfort of my home without the pressure of a salesperson breathing down my neck to buy something.
I'm not just looking at new furniture though — I'm open to bringing in a second-hand piece through Letgo (opens in new tab) if it's something that might match my decor. I haven't had much success with the app yet, but I like the idea of being able to buy and sell used items without the prevailing creepiness of a service like Craigslist. I want to see what the item is that I'm buying before I bother leaving the house, and I want that person to be traceable. I'm also considering using Letgo to put up a love seat for sale since all it requires is snapping a photo with my Pixel XL to post it in the virtual classifieds.
There are, of course, already a number of very popular, robust shopping apps that we've become accustomed to using, including Amazon, eBay, and Overstock. We also have other apps making their way to the top of the shopping charts — new virtual storefronts if you will — with an attempt at coercing us toward new shopping habits. Why bother thrifting, for instance, if you can search for a used designer threads through an app like threadUP (opens in new tab) without leaving your couch? And who needs the expertise of a shopping assistant at Nordstrom when Polyvore (opens in new tab) offers the ability to piece together entire outfits and find the best deals, without the obvious attempt at an upsell?
Shopping apps aren't perfect, and there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn't just download any app that pops up in the Google Play Store. Many also don't offer any help when it comes to visualizing how the tangible thing looks in your world, so it's likely that until the idea of shopping with augmented reality becomes a mainstream habit, brick and mortar stores will have to exist to cater to a particular shopper. I could also see retail storefronts becoming the next "collector's items," or so to speak, the way that books have. Sure, you can read the text with your mobile device, but if you want something that's special, you can pay a bit extra for the collector's edition and display it in your home. In this way, I imagine that visiting a retail store will one day be reserved special occasions, which is the way my personal shopping habits have slowly morphed.
One thing's for sure: the ability to procure stuff has become easier than ever. We're literally carrying online bazaars in our pockets with access to the biggest and best storefronts that exist. Our next challenge, as consumers, is to choose the ones worth keeping around. Perhaps rather than continuing on our path of rampant consumerism, we scale it back a bit and refocus on supporting quality brands that aren't just hawking light-up fidget spinners.
Lead image from unsplash.com by way of Pexels.
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Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.
I admit that I do shop from my computer, not so much my cell phone. But overall, I prefer in person mall shopping.
When it comes down to it, I've grown to virtually hate dealing with the public, period. After a long 12 hr. day of dealing with the public at work, the last thing I want to do is having to interact with more.
Besides, with perks that you receive from Amazon Prime or the online services from companies like Best Buy, you can do home shipping and free returns.
A Movie Theater (digital projectors are expensive, and they didn't turn enough profit)
Sears (their own fault really, but I'll miss the mowers/tools),
Bon Ton (they did suck too),
Dick's (they opened up a massive store, and are somehow saving money over mall rent),
Garfield's (shutdown without notice),
Chuck E. Cheese (f^$king Dollar Tree bought out their lease, my son cried over that one...),
FYE (I didn't shop there a lot, but they had prices comparable to Amazon on some cell accessories)
Rite-Aid (Shut down the mall store, opened up across the street in a massive new building, somehow saved money)
The Rite-Aid one really sucks, because I could drop off a script, and walk the mall with the kids while I waited. It was a nice experience. The mall screwed up letting them go. I think my mall visits dropped 50% with that one, I'm sure I'm not alone. FYI, if you want a real, throw back to the 80s mall experience, go to the Cranberry Mall in Pennsylvania near Seneca and Franklin (NOT Cranberry Twp closer to Pittsburgh) They have a lot of closed stores also, but that place was built in the 80s and never overhauled. I love it. They even still have a Sears, lol. And a movie theater that doesn't suck!
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLNz4Un92pGNxQ9vNgmnCx7dwchPJGJ3IQ This guy gets paid to video document malls that are dead or dying a slow death. He has walked through a few that I had been to in the 80's & 90's that are now closed or closing. Sad in a way.
1`) there will be, as there is now, competition online
2) there won't be "Thousands more out of work" unless people are lazy and loaf at home instead of find new jobs as unnecessary retail jobs dry up. No reason to worry.