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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA

The Knight Crier

Is this the end of the road for Malls?

Gianna Moser
With abandoned stores and empty halls, the malls today are facing a decline that doesn’t seem to be resolving anytime soon.

For those who can remember its prime, walking into a mall brings a sense of nostalgia. There was a time, if one can believe it, that malls were filled to the brim with avid customers. There were eager people of all ages, suffocating scents both good and bad, and the deafening noise of the entire community together, in one place, having a good time. 

Today, however, empty halls, vacant food courts, and abandoned stores with “for lease” signs unfortunately populate this once proud cornerstone of commerce. 

At the peak of mall popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, the vast majority of their success was due to the overwhelming amount of shopping for and by the younger generations. This is where they purchased their CDs, picked out their trendy clothes, they centered their social lives. 

As with most things, the times are changing.

Young people today spend their time in a multitude of ways. They play video games, scroll through social media, and stream their favorite shows. Of all the activities that young people partake in nowadays, going to the mall is not usually one of them. 

For the younger generations, the foot traffic that was once seen in malls and shopping centers is shifting to an online footprint on an ever-growing digital enterprise. As the market continues to shift globally to an online world, malls and shopping centers are left vacant and forgotten. 

Even North Penn’s local mall, the Montgomery Mall, has received its share of this pressing issue in recent years, facing foreclosure in the summer of 2021. 

“I’ve lived in this area my whole life. So, I have seen this mall when it used to be packed and there were no open spaces,” said Mykie Kova, a worker at Hot Topic. “Now it is very sad and dead.” 

After the pandemic, the world has formed an increased dependency on the Internet for nearly everything, including advertisements. The specialized algorithm that one achieves with online shopping ensures a personalized commerce experience that simply can’t be replicated in person. 

After quarantines lifted, the huge shift to online shopping was a hiccup that in-person shopping centers and malls have yet to fully come back from. 

Though coming back from the pandemic and the release of social distancing restrictions have brought more people in than during just after the COVID crisis, the popularity of malls, including local ones, has yet to return to its former glory. 

“I would say it is busier than it used to be, especially coming back post-COVID,” noted Kova. “But, it is still definitely very slow, and the busiest we see it is during the holiday period.” 

While the popularity of malls has decreased and that of online shopping has increased, some have been left to wonder if the Internet is the appropriate replacement for such an enterprise.

“Malls don’t just create shopping environments, they create places for small businesses to blossom into bigger stores,” mentioned Spencer Korber, a worker at Go! Calendars Games and Toys. “Online provides growth in other ways and more advertising. That’s how people do it now, but you don’t have confirmation that you’re going to you’re going to get what you pay for.” 

The one area that the internet can never beat malls in is the in-person experience. Being able to see one’s purchase with their own eyes, being able to try on clothes before purchasing, and being able to have human interactions with one’s community is something that online shopping will never be able to exceed the original.

So, will Montgomery Mall make a full return to its heyday of the 90s? Not likely. 

However, for malls, there are some signs of life. For instance, larger upscale malls like King of Prussia are usually pretty packed. 

According to an article in Forbes about the recent holiday season, there seemed to be improvement evident. 

“Holiday inventory was better than the last two years, driven by better and more predictable supply chains,” the article stated. “Sales results didn’t blow the doors off, but they didn’t disappoint either.”

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    Willa MaglandJan 10, 2024 at 12:40 pm

    Love this. I can’t say I grew up with the Montgomery Mall, but it’s definitely been sad watching it become more and more desolate over the years. I think it has to do with the economy right now, and who knows about that, but I do believe the online shopping craze we’re living through right now is going to lessen over the coming years. It’s becoming more clear that what Amazon is doing isn’t sustainable, especially for the environment. I hope in the future we can regain some of that human-to-human experience like Gianna mentioned, that’s so important.