Malls ‘R Us: Ethnic & Urban Shoppers Are Saving The Malls

June 8, 2015  |  

What with online shopping some predicted the death of the malls. Add to that the financial crisis, and large shopping centers seemed doomed. But hold off on the eulogy just yet.

The malls have survived, with the help from different demo and market of shopper.

Today’s mall is attracting new urban and ethnic clients.

This is not to say some malls didn’t or will not perish. In fact, about 10 to 15 percent of the country’s estimated 1,000 malls are predicted to be out of business over the next decade. Many of these are situated in financially-strapped areas, with locals opting for low-end discounters such as Target or Walmart.

Still some 400 malls that cater to more-affluent communities — ones typically anchored by a Bloomingdale’s or Nordstrom — bounced back the fasted from the recession, and are now thriving. And they aren’t thriving because of millennial shoppers. According to a recent study from A.T. Kearney, millennials will do research on the web, then visit the store, and often then order online. Instead, the successful malls are reaching out to other demographic markets—ethnic and urban. And these markets are proving profitable.

Malls are now opening in regions that once shunned malls, like Manhattan. And actually Shops on Columbus Mall in Manhattan is the world’s fifth-most profitable mall. (Though it should be noted that while that mall has an H&M, it also has some pricier shops like Hugo Boss and Cole Haan along with restaurants that can cost hundreds for dinner.)

And nationwide, investors and developers are buying older malls. “Such malls can now be found in traditional Latino areas such as Southern California and Texas, but they also exist in Atlanta, Las Vegas, Oklahoma City, and Charlotte, places that have recently become major hubs for immigrants,” reports The Daily Beast.  “We had a terrific recession,” notes Los Angeles-based mall maven Jose Legaspi, who has developed 12 such malls around the country. “You do well if you target specific niches that are growing. You can’t make it with a plain vanilla mall. We are creating in these places a Hispanic downtown.”

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