How Malls Are Surviving in the Online Age

Traditional malls are struggling to stay open as online sales continue to grow.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Once a go-to place to shop, Horton Plaza is now almost deserted, and it isn't alone. Malls around the country are looking for ways to bring in customers. Some are adding more restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms to become destinations.

"There's kind of a retail Armageddon going on," said SDSU Marketing Professor Miro Coptic. "Now you can go to the mall to have fun, spend the day, and, oh, by the way there's great shopping options here."

Major chains like Sears, Macy's and JCPenny have closed stores in recent years. That's partially because more people are shopping online, or looking elsewhere.

"I would rather support local markets, local art," said one customer. "If I can help it, I don't go to malls."

But other people say San Diego malls are different than other shopping centers.

"They are beautiful and outdoors and it's fun to walk around," said Christie. "Having young children, the malls have been a spot we can go visit and get out and see different things."

Successful malls are looking for new ways to bring in customers, including looking at building apartments or condos.

"Whether it's going to be housing or office space, where is there a steady flow of people who will go to the rest of the mall?" asked Copic. "That is going to change drastically over the next three to five years."

Copic online shopping has forced some malls to close, but some are undergoing major construction as they expand and change.

"The mall is not dead," said Copic. "The mall will be reinvented for consumers."

Contact Us