What consumerism really is, at its worst is getting people to buy things that don’t actually improve their lives.

Jeff Bezos

Long before Amazon made ecommerce the most frictionless action we’ve ever seen, shopping malls mastered the art of purchasing behaviors.

Malls were once the pinnacle, the perfection of American consumerism. They were this beautiful mishmash of optionality and experience. By design, people flowed between the “big box stores”, small chains, and kiosks like a choreographed ballet. They were this consumerist creation that routinely got people to spend more money than they anticipated (which sounds oddly familiar to Amazon).

Today, many of our malls are dying. Credit Suisse estimates that 20-25% of malls will shutter over the next 5 years. We’re reaching the end of an era.

But, the people who wallow in the past will miss out on the opportunity of the future. With the death of shopping malls, there’s going to be a massive real estate void to fill.

Shopping malls are almost always strategically placed in and around cities to capture the largest population while ensuring easy access by car (and semi-truck). Logistically, they already make sense.

These are some of the concepts I envision filling this space:

  • Housing complexes
  • Drone airports for last-mile delivery
  • Community centers focused on experiences not sales
  • Satellite college campuses
  • Medical centers
  • Megachurches

The Future of Retail is not chiseled in ecommerce stone, yet. Physical stores can still capture the hearts (and dollars) of shoppers, but their strategies must adapt to the times.