The idea that Gen Z is killing malls could be a myth

The idea that Gen Z is killing malls could be a myth

mall teens shopping clothing store

Seth Wenig/AP Images

All's not well at the mall, but don't blame Gen Z.

  • Generation Z may not be mall rats for the most part, but that doesn't mean that they've given up on malls altogether.
  • Business Insider surveyed more than 1,800 Americans between the ages of 13 and 21 to find out what they think of malls.
  • Nearly 18% of respondents said they visited the mall at least once a month.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The heyday of malls is behind us. Nowadays, communities around the United States are pocked with dead and dying shopping centers, forgotten structures that once attracted teens and shoppers in droves.

But don't go around blaming the decline of the mall scene on Gen Z. The iconic mall culture that took hold in the 1980s reflected, in part, a different economic reality.

Plus, teens still go to the mall. Sometimes.

Business Insider ran a poll - conducted with SurveyMonkey Audience partner Cint - between January 11 and January 14. The 1,884 participants in the survey were all Americans between the age of 13 and 21.


When asked "How often do you go to the mall?" slightly over half of the Gen Z participants said they swung by their local shopping center either once a week or once a month. Specifically, 17.99% said they visit the mall on a weekly basis, while 33.92% of respondents said they make a monthly trip.

How often Gen Z goes to the mall

Yutong Yuan/Business Insider

So, for just over half of Gen Zers, swinging by the mall is at least a semi-regular event.

It's true that the mall no longer sits at the center of teens' social world. When asked to reveal where they most often spend time with friends, 12.21% of participants cited the mall. Far more popular hang-out spots nowadays included "each others' houses" - attracting 34.98% of respondents - and "school" - which accrued 28.4% of the vote.

Where Gen Z most often spends time with their friends

Yutong Yuan/Business Insider


Read more: We asked more than 1,800 young people what they think is the biggest issue facing America, and the most popular answer was Trump

And then it's fair to say the mall is less relevant for a substantial chunk of Gen Z. For 29.14% of respondents, these kinds of shopping excursions are an annual event, while 8.17% of participants said they never visited the mall.

But what sort of things do the members of Gen Z get up to once they're at the mall? Business Insider asked its survey respondents to pick a statement that "best reflects how you feel about the mall."

The most popular answer proved to be "I go there often and spend much of my spare money there," with 36.78% of participants admitting to indulging in frequent retail therapy at the mall.

How Gen Z feels about the mall

Yutong Yuan/Business Insider


Nearly 33% of participants said they were more inclined to hang out at the mall without making any purchases, with 13.96% saying they did this "often" and 18.74% saying they did this "on occasion."

Only 6.21% of respondents said they "never" visited the mall because they "don't see the point of it," while 5.04% said such trips were unnecessary because "my parents do the shopping for me."

And then, 10.62% of Gen Z respondents said they never visited the mall because they "don't have spare money to spend."

The majority of these Gen Z youth don't appear to live at the mall the same way mall rats of the 1980s did, but it's hard to argue that young people are "killing" the mall when half of them say that visits to shopping centers are a routine part of their lives.

Generation Z from Business Insider Intelligence