Tusco Display blog
Tusco Display blog


De-Malling of America

Malls grew in importance during the 1960s as Americans became increasingly mobile, less urban, and more consumer-oriented and peaked in the 1980s.

Americans still spend most of their consumer dollars in physical stores. In 2018 Q4, online sales hit 10% of total consumer spending for the first time ever, leaving the bulk of purchases still conducted in stores. And when the shopper reaches the store, those retailers and brands better be ready to deliver.

We foresee several major trends impacting American shopping over the next five years:

  1. Shoppers will spend a growing proportion of their disposable income on experiences. Entertainment, dining, gaming, rock-climbing, etc will take precedence over buying more stuff. Thanks, Marie Kondo.

  2. Online apparel stores will overtake in-store department stores. Fast fashion retailers like Forever 21 and H&M clobbered Macy’s, Saks and Dillards. Those upstarts will now be hurt by the environmental impact of their short-lived apparel as well as fashion-on-demand players like Rent the Runway and Stitch Fix.

  3. Dollar store growth will peak and start to erode. We have reached near-saturation for that format. Family Dollar recently announced the closure of about 5% of their stores. We’ll see more closures and fewer openings in this channel.

  4. Average store footprints will continue to shrink. Better inventory control, rapid shipment options, and more focused offerings by applying AI to shopper trends will make stores better than ever at delivering the goods. And smaller stores like craft breweries and artisan shops are popping up in interesting places like town centers, able to compete online and access vendors globally. Shoppers want convenience, not a hike.

Malls had their heyday. American retail changes as consumers, technology, and demographics change. That dynamism means relentless searches for better ways to serve shoppers. Dynamic in-store merchandising still has a vital place in this world.