35 haunting photos of abandoned shopping malls that highlight the impact of the retail apocalypse over the past decade
- American malls are closing all over the US as the retail apocalypse continues.
- A report from Credit Suisse in 2017 estimated that 20-25% of malls would shutter between 2017 and 2022, largely because of store closures.
- Retailers have announced more than 8,600 store closings in 2019 so far.
- These haunting photos show how some malls have fallen into ruin after being forced to shutter.
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American malls are dying out and, as the online retail industry grows, the future of brick-and-mortar establishments continues to hang in the balance.
Retail complexes all over the US are being clobbered by store closures sweeping the country. In the past decade, online retailers like Amazon have flourished, while stores and shopping malls continue to close their doors or report a decrease in foot traffic.
On multiple occasions, Amazon has bought up former shopping malls and converted them into their own fulfillment centers, adding another level of intrigue to the decline of in-store retail in favor of online retailers.
At the start of the 2008 recession, 90 million square feet of retail space had closed. Then, retail closures steadily returned to the status quo in 2010. However, by 2016, the number of retail closures began increasing rapidly again, and as of August 2018, the U.S. hit a 10-year high in the amount of retail square footage officially closed down.
Retailers have announced more than 8,600 closings so far in 2019 and, according to a report done by Credit Suisse in 2017, between 20% to 25% of malls will close by 2022.
A national retail apocalypse has crippled US malls as anchor stores such as Macy's and Sears, which take up large retail spaces and drive foot traffic, have shuttered stores and left malls with enormous gaps to fill. For many malls, this is an impossible task.
Take a look at some of these haunting photos below that show how badly America's malls have been hit over the last decade.
This is the Carousel Mall in San Bernardino, California, which closed in 2017.
The mall had been hanging on by a thread after it lost its two main anchors, Montgomery Ward and JCPenney, several years earlier.
San Bernardino is now considering 11 different offers for the redevelopment of the abandoned shopping center.
Euclid Square Mall in Ohio, pictured in 2013, had a similar fate and shuttered in 2016.
It was temporarily used by religious congregations who held services in old stores.
In September 2017, Amazon announced plans to build a 1.7-million-square-foot fulfillment center in its place. That fulfillment center has since opened.
Photographer Seph Lawless has become famous for his photos of abandoned malls. In 2016, he captured Chicago's Lincoln Mall, which closed in January 2015.
In its heyday, the 700,000-square-foot mall had the capacity to host four anchor stores and 100 smaller shops.
But in the months before it closed, it was home to just 40 businesses.
In 2013, the mall's owner told The Chicago Tribune that the mall was losing $2 million a year. The same year, a court-ordered receiver was appointed to force the location to pay taxes and fines, as well as make necessary repairs.
The mall's tenants did not generate enough in rent to pay for the improvements or repairs, according to an attorney for the owner.
The mall reportedly failed to make these changes, which included creating new exits to comply with fire codes and replacing electrical and air-conditioning systems.
In November 2014, a Cook County judge ordered the closure of the mall following the holiday shopping season. The mall was demolished in 2017.
Lawless also captured the Metro North Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
The mall opened in 1976 and covered over 1.2 million square feet, housing more than 150 retailers.
The mall was shut down in 2014, but the decaying interior makes it appear as if it's been deserted for decades.
The once-bustling mall is now completely run down.
Lawless said it was "by far the creepiest mall I've been in."
Developers had planned to renovate the mall, but the makeover was estimated to cost $200 million. The plan was ditched in 2015.
The mall was finally demolished in 2017 to make way for a golf and entertainment complex. The developer also hopes to build a new hotel, health club, and specialty grocer in the area.
Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, was once packed with visitors but faced a similar fate as many other malls when it closed its doors in 2008.
Lawless visited in 2012 to capture these haunting photographs that show how the complex was left to rot.
The inside of the mall was crumbling and covered with snow, left exposed to the Ohio elements.
In June 2016, the city deemed it unsafe for locals, issued warnings for people to stay away, and increased police presence after it gained a reputation for being a crime hotspot.
Multiple deaths occurred on the property after the mall was abandoned. Perhaps most horrifyingly, the body of a likely murder victim was found in the woods behind the building.
After several rounds through the bankruptcy courts, the property was acquired by the city of Akron.
In 2016, the Rolling Acres Mall was demolished. In 2018, Amazon purchased the property for $600,000 from the city of Akron with plans to build a new 700,000-square-foot fulfillment center.
These eerie photos were taken of Cloverleaf Mall in Chesterfield, Virginia, in 2011.
It was the area's first large-scale, regional shopping center, but the mall officially closed in 2008.
Once a buzzing hub, the inside looked completely barren and was littered with decaying plants and debris.
In 2011, the building was demolished and replaced with a Kroger supermarket.
Hawthorne Plaza in Los Angeles, California, closed its doors in 1999. In July 2011, Chris Cognac took these photos while performing a security check with workers working on partial demolition inside.
Since the mall closed, it has been used as an appropriately spooky spot for filming some of Hollywood's biggest blockbusters, including "Gone Girl," "The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift," and "Minority Report."
Today, it is just a shell that's covered in graffiti and crumbling away.
In 2016, drone enthusiasts transformed the space into a drone-racing track, where people could race their remote-control drones around the building while it was lit up in fluorescent lights.
However, these pop-ups were short-lived. Later that year, the city of Hawthorne agreed to demolish the building and replace it with a $500 million open-air development, but that still hasn't happened.
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