This year, as I wandered Ocean County Mall, just 2 shopping days before Christmas, I was marveled by the fact that while the mall was busy for local standards, it was no where near what I expected it to be.
Sure it was in the evening, on a Sunday, but the mall itself had decided to stay open till 10pm expecting crowds. And there were, if you knew where to look.
I grew up in California. And as a child of the 80’s and 90’s I spent a lot of time in malls. Malls that were more crowded on your average Saturday night than Ocean County Mall, 2 days before Christmas.
And the funniest thing was, people seemed to be avoiding the “anchor stores”. Those stores, that used to be the “anchor” for the mall. The thing that kept the mall profitable, and would peril if they lost, seemed to be a definite non draw this Christmas season.
It was apparent from the parking lots, before even going inside. The lots near “mall” entrances were packed, with no parking, but near Boscov’s and JC Penney’s, you could park right near the doors. But once inside the mall even smaller stores that were usually a big draw like Pandora were busy but not packed and it was Build-A-Bear Workshop and Game Stop that seemed to have lines out the doors.
So in this ever changing economy of global commerce and online buying, I wonder if malls and the like are truly dead, or if in fact, we just need to re-think, what a mall can really be for our community.