Freddy Swan

Often wrong, but never in doubt.”   Old Family Proverb

I recently squawked about the demise of the big shopping mall that has been so important in our culture for the past half century. I was feeling pretty smug about my “predicting” skills when just today I read some interesting stuff about the giant office supplies retailer – Staples.Staples plans to close a lot of their stores in the USA & overseas – WHY? To downplay their reliance on physical stores and concentrate their marketing retail efforts much more on their ONLINE business. See I was on the money.
But wait – in that same newspaper, a guest editor – Michael P. Gilmcher – CEO of Gilmcher Realty Trust – made a good case for the survivability and success of well-located malls.   The headline reads: “Malls are important – and adaptable.”

I have to admit, Mr. Gilmcher makes a good case for the malls survival. Here are some of his points that I found interesting & convincing:

  • Consumers are resilient, the mall is adaptable, and people love to shop.
  • The recession has changed how people enjoy the mall.
  • As a result, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of restaurants – in the malls – as well as other entertainment venues like movies, skating rinks and comedy clubs.
  • We use “experience retailing” to describe anything you can do at a mall, but can not online, i.e., you can’t try on a dress or purse or have your makeup done – online.
  • Reinvestment in malls is also important. While updates can be costly, they are important to maintain the center’s quality and attract and retain top brands.

These are just a few of the key points, and the editorial does beg the question – Will the malls exist after the Electronic Revolution has developed the full force of on line retailing?

I honestly don’t know, but if push came to shove, I’d vote for online retailing – it’s just so easy, so timesaving, so convenient, so less expensive, and all our kids are growing up using computer & smart phones. What do you think? I’m truly stumped.

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