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Malls are an Endangered Species

Holly Bergman, Editor

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It’s no secret that Americans love to shop. We have acquired quite a reputation for ourselves with Black Friday and Cyber Monday (both of which some look forward to more than Thanksgiving itself). We have all heard the horror stories of Black Friday and yet, we still go anyway. We set our alarms for 4:30am and trudge off to the closest shopping centre in the freezing cold, wondering when the Dunkin Donuts opens, and mentally preparing to fight a suburban soccer mom for the last TV. Or at least, that’s how it used to be.

This year, Cyber Monday received a lot more attention than Black Friday, and online Black Friday sales skyrocketed, overtaking the amount of people that actually braved the outdoors in the wee hours of the morning. Online sales seem to be increasing in general as well. Over time, independent stores have been slowly closing in malls, and the empty shells of what once were unique boutiques of many different things have been replaced with the more generic Forever 21s of the industry – things that are definitely going to make profit.

The fact of the matter is: when given the alternative, people would rather stay at home and order things online than they would go to the mall and shop around. For me, personally, I need to make going to the mall an event of sorts. I’ll go and hang out with my mom and we go Pokémon hunting at the various hotspots throughout the mall (and do a small bit of shopping while we’re there), or I’ll set up an outing with a bunch of friends, and we’ll spend time and money together, but mostly poke fun at the different products being sold and rage over the price tags.

Even then, even after doing all of this, I still only spend maybe $15 at the mall, and that is mostly on food. Whether this lack of purchasing things is up to having no source of income as an unemployed teen, the neglect of going to the mall to actually go shopping, or the fact that everything is really freaking expensive…the verdict still stands: people shop way more online than they do in person. It’s easier to spend money that way. Using a credit card online, you just have to hit “add to cart” “check out” and “buy items” and the whole ordeal is finished. Plus, you no longer have to go to several different stores to worry about finding the exact item that you’re looking for because everything is online.

However, at the mall, you have to find the item, stand in line, and then wait there. Eventually your mind will probably wander to the point of no return to “Will I actually need/use this item?” and “Is it really worth the money?” and then by the time you’ve made it to the front of the line, you are experiencing buyers’ regret before you’ve even purchased the item.

My personal chore of going to the mall, however, does not mean that I dislike them or even want to see them disappear. There are some people that love malls, but the overall appeal of them has died down. This is why we need to start patronizing them again. If all of the small unique stores keep becoming Claire’s and H&M, our ability to choose things is going to disappear. We will succumb to having little to no choice because everything will be the same. All malls will have the same stores, same merchandise, same prices. No wonder people have been shopping online like crazy, there is so much variety that you just don’t get anymore in shopping malls.

White Marsh Mall is in danger of becoming one of those doppelganger malls. Especially with the newly elected outlet mall coming soon, White Marsh is going to be gripping onto business any way they can – even if that means closing their key unique stores to become a cookie cutter mall. As stated before, people love to shop, but not as much as they used to. White Marsh Mall already competes for attention with The Avenue. How are they supposed to compete with that and another outlet mall, one that gives a promise of lower prices?

Stick to using the internet to buy your Christmas gifts, kids. But don’t come crying when you can no longer go to the mall because it went out of business.

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Malls are an Endangered Species