Gephardt: The Gateway Innovates As Malls Across America Take A Financial Beating

Jul 23, 2020, 6:48 PM | Updated: 11:05 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – It’s no surprise that many brick-and-mortar stores are taking it on the teeth right now. New research shows there’s one place where merchants are taking it particularly hard: malls.

According to experts, malls are getting hit harder than most other brick and mortar stores. Last month, Coresight Research reported that retailers are projected to shutter as many as 25,000 stores this year “mostly in malls.”

“We anticipate that approximately 55 to 60 percent of all store closures will be mall-based,” Coresight Research wrote in the report, provided to KSL-TV.

And a former department store executive told CBNC that he expects “a third of America’s malls will disappear by next year.

Retailers are projected to shutter as many as 25,000 stores this year “mostly in malls.”

Brick and mortars have been losing ground to online retailers for years, but thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, analysts have warped forward their predictions on just how soon it could mean the demise of the classic shopping mall.

Adapt Or Die

Some mall bosses in Utah are embracing the news as a challenge, and adapting.

From new stores to new art to new safety measures, managers of The Gatewall are doing everything they can to entice shoppers back. Marketing director Jacklyn Briggs said they’ve been trying to innovate since before COVID-19.

“We have started to think of ourselves as a community center,” she said. “[The Gateway has] cultural events, community events, activities going on. So we’re not strictly a place to go and shop, which a lot of malls are kind of still in that mentality.”

Briggs said many of The Gateway’s plans are soft plans, so they can be flexible and adapt to the wants and needs of shoppers – as well as health department mandates. Already, it’s spurred some unique ideas, like theater troupes performing Shakespeare in the parking garage.

For decades, malls have used big events to try and draw folks in, like photo-ops with Santa or the Easter Bunny. The Gateway is embracing smaller gathering options, like goat yoga or movies on the plaza – patrons spread out for social distancing.

“It’s kind of neat to see what could come out of this,” she said. “We’ve seen great success with opening things that you can’t find anywhere else.”

The Gateway Mall is largely outdoors, which already gives it a leg up compared to some of its competitors. Most malls bank on patrons hopping store to store through the indoor corridors, which has seemingly turned off many shoppers trying to avoid confined spaces during a global pandemic.

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Gephardt: The Gateway Innovates As Malls Across America Take A Financial Beating