Gone are the days of teenagers desperately flocking to malls just to "hang out" and parents stumbling over themselves to buy one last thing at Macy's before Christmas Day. With Cyber Monday specials during the holidays, the increase in online shopping, fewer high quality stores in malls, and a complete halt in mall openings since 2006, malls are becoming increasingly irrelevant in our culture and could very well turn into deserted buildings over the next few decades.
There are many reasons why Americans often prefer online shopping to in-person store browsing: no need to make a trip to the mall, no pressure from salesmen, the appeal of bargain shopping sites such as Gilt Groupe Pinterest-reminiscent, celebrity-adored OpenSky, and fewer distractions. Anyone who has ever had to pick up a lot of things at once knows that it's easy to walk into a mall with one particular purchase and goal in mind and leave buying everything but the very thing that person set out to get. Online shopping helps consumers maintain their focus, and they may even find better deals on the Internet than they'd receive at a mall. During the holidays, we have Cyber Monday, which enables retailers to give potential consumers online offers and bargains they cannot refuse. Vendors come up with tempting sales up to 50% off, decreasing the incentive to hit up an already insanely chaotic mall for a pair of Charter Club gloves you've been wanting to buy for your mom.
Of course, there are definite downsides to opting for online shopping and eschewing long-standing malls, which peaked in popularity 23 years ago. Shipping can cause many unnecessary complications and problems, especially when items don't arrive on schedule, and costs for wrapping, distribution, and packaging skyrocket. Getting clothes on the web can be tough as well, especially if you order the wrong size and have to ship everything back to the manufacturer rather than simply go back to the mall for a purchase exchange.
The benefits of avoiding malls are still greater than dragging oneself to one of the overwhelming, clock-less buildings, as some truly like online shopping better because it also goes hand in hand with their routine. Last year, the New York Times reported that the internet was becoming a hotspot for menswear because males are expressing more interest in making informed purchases, and don't want the influence of pushy mall employees: “Men aren’t necessarily driven to the Internet because of its value proposition, but rather because it’s more suited to their shopping habits,” Ashma Kunde, a global apparel research analyst at Euromonitor International, explained to the publication. “For them, the shopping experience is less about exploration and more about being informed about what they should be buying. The Internet allows them to access this information and advice with relative ease and peace, without being hassled by shop assistants.”
While around a third of malls (and solely the largest and newest of the bunch) are still going strong across the United States, once-appealing mall perks such as air-conditioning don't seem all that cool (literally) to us anymore — not when we can purchase items at a discounted price online from our air-conditioned homes while also browsing Facebook, tweeting, reading the news, and even working.