I Love The Smell of Commerce in the Morning!

Earlier this year, 
I received a flurry of text messages 
from my sister, who was at 
a going-out-of-business sale 
at the local Macy’s. 

I was floored — not by the deals, 
but because my childhood mall, 
in Orlando, Florida, 
was losing another big-box store. 

Sears exited a decade ago, 
and the mall has steadily lost tenants 
like the Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Disney Store.
My teenage self would barely recognize the place today.

Similar declines have been playing out for years
at many of the roughly 1,150 enclosed malls in the U.S.,
as people have turned to the internet,
strip-center chains and outlets. 

But the pandemic accelerated challenges
and now, hundreds of others are grappling
with major vacancies, fewer visitors
and uncertain futures.

More than ever, American malls
are a story of haves and have-nots;
Vast spaces that once housed chains
like Nordstrom and Macy’s are hard to fill
in normal times, but the past year
has made it extraordinarily tough.

The plight of malls is significant
for American communities and shows
how quickly our habits have changed.

Many people have a deep nostalgia for their local mall —
myself included –
it was often a hangout spot, a source for
back-to-school clothing, or the scene of a first job,
but now, many are in a strange limbo.