Why a String of Fashion Failures Does Not Mean the Death of Malls

Millennials have focused their spending elsewhere, but does the recent string of fashion failures mean the death of malls? Shopping malls have changed, but not for the worse.

With each spring comes a revival of life – flowers bloom, the sun emerges, warm weather returns and everything just seems brighter… Unless, you’re in the retail industry. In retail, spring signals the restructuring of the Canadian retail landscape from sector bankruptcies. After a long harsh winter, especially like those in Canada, some retailers don’t make it through. Look at Express, BCBG, Bebe, Payless and American Apparel, just a few major retailers who have all pulled out of the Canadian market within the last year.

One of the main, undeniable reasons is e-commerce. The reality isn’t that people aren’t shopping at malls anymore – they are, and retail spending continues to grow at a meager but steady pace – however, other trends have surpassed shopping malls.

Logo-driven brands, like Hollister and Abercrombie, that thrived in the early 2000s when coolness was measured by the size of the logo on your sweater, simply became uncool at an alarming rate. Logo-driven clothing was replaced with vintage fashion, something that can’t be found at local malls.

death of malls
Abercrombie & Fitch (Image: Instagram/@aidanknicholson)

Also, why even go out to a mall and buy new clothes when you can purchase them online from the comfort of your own home? You can basically get anything and everything you’d ever want or need on Amazon nowadays. The rise of e-commerce, coupled with the oversupply of malls, has come to change the face of shopping for the average consumer.

Millennials have also focused their spending elsewhere. Rather than going on a shopping spree, they are spending their money on travelling across the globe and nights out with friends at fancy restaurants.

These factors lead to more and more mall spaces being orphaned by those retailers leaving Canada’s fashion market, but the situation may not be as bad as some may fear. It may seem like some sort of retail apocalypse is taking over in which shopping malls are following the dinosaurs to impending extinction, but that’s just not the case.

There are still people who go to malls because they enjoy the experience of shopping. Back in the day, the only way to shop was to go to the mall. Now, there are multiple ways to shop meaning shopping malls have taken a back seat, but they haven’t gotten out of the car completely.

The recent series of fashion failures does not signify the end of malls, but rather an opportunity for growth, making way for new retail stores and multiple expansions to the Canadian fashion market.

Multiple new retailers are filling the empty mall space, including many Canadian brands such as Canada Goose, Simons and Aritzia. In addition, newer foreign retailers are increasing their presence in Canada’s market including Uniqlo, Samsung and Christian Louboutin.

death of malls
Inside Canada Goose’s Yorkdale store (Image: Grayson Miller)

There’s no denying that the current retail market is a bit rocky, but Canada is still doing much better than the US. Retailers are lucky that per capita retail penetration has been – and still remains – lower in Canada than the US. According to a study from the Retail Council of Canada, per capita penetration of shopping malls in Canada is 16.5 square feet per person, compared with 23.6 square feet per person in the US.

But it is also important to note that malls are more than just malls nowadays. They’re a place of retail-tainment; a place of both shopping and entertainment. People no longer just go to a mall to buy a new shirt, they go for an experience. They want to see a movie, go out for dinner and buy that new shirt all in one place.

Does this change what malls once were? Yes, but it’s a good kid of change. With the use of ambience, emotion, sound and activity that retail-tainment introduces, it actually gets customers further interested in the merchandise and in a mood to buy. Does it take away from the overall retail experience? No. In fact, it adds to a whole new shopping experience.

Malls aren’t dying, they’re just changing.

Do you agree that the death of malls is not coming? Let us know in the comment section.

Featured Image: CF Toronto Eaton Centre via Instagram/@jasonskung

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