24 June 2014 – the fall of the shopping mall?

This blog has entries about shopping malls and public space (see for example, 9 January 2014 and 10 December 2013) and I was interested to read David Boyne (Guardian, 23 June) writing about the decline in shopping malls (that is shopping centres and out-of-town malls) in both the US and UK. He says this wasn’t what we expected, and argues it is partly due to the convenience of on-line shopping that avoids car journeys, traffic jams and parking headaches. David Boyne suggests this heralds the rise of the convenience store (predicted to rise from £36bn in 2013 to £42bn by 2018) but that this does not necessarily bode well for the traditional high street – I assume because these stores are just that, convenient – and near local neighbourhoods.

As the commentator points out, these out-of-town shopping malls were often heralded as ‘festival marketplaces’, combining shopping, spectacle and fun. But are their days numbered as he suggests? As the major supermarkets struggle to maintain their positions and momentum (teaming up with discounters, introducing bakery franchises, cutting prices still further etc.), how have food markets positioned themselves as part of the traditional, good value option for food? Surely, their long tradition as specialists of combining good value with social interaction is perfectly placed if, as David Boyne and others argue, we are entering a ‘new shopping era’, where traditional food shopping is back on the agenda.

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