The busy malls that dot the wide American landscape will soon be deserted. Up to 15 percent of suburban shopping concourses will close in the next five years, driven out of business by online retail outlets:
“I think 200 [malls] are going out of business,” said Gerry Mason, executive managing director at property group Savills. “We’re 15-20 per cent overbuilt. There are just too many stores.” [...]
Traders are watching the health of stores such as Sears and JC Penney, where sales are falling, and announcements from retailers such as bookseller Barnes & Noble last week, which said it would shut a third of its outlets over the next decade.
For now, so-called “mega malls” with cinemas and food courts aren’t being hit as hard as smaller ones, but it’s only a matter of time before online shopping cuts into their profits as well. Internet retail is just more efficient than the brick-and-mortar variety, and not only because it can avoid huge real estate costs. New companies like Warby Parker and Frank & Oak are offering free “home try-on” for their products. Indochino sends customized clothing straight to your door, without a visit to the tailor. Other web outlets offer flash sales and other digital promotions that traditional, physical retailers just aren’t able to compete with.
A more efficient and sustainable retail system is just one of the many ways in which the Internet is contributing to the greening of America. Think about how much greenhouse gas emissions will be saved when no one has to drive to and from the mall just to get a new pair of jeans.
Greens, shockingly, have met this trend not with rejoicing but with deafening silence.