A dearth of information, so many questions unanswered...
Caught this on a documentary channel; I was fairly disappointed, although I suppose that might be as much an issue with me not getting the information that I'd like to have, as opposed to the quality of the program.
The show describes, albeit it in broad, vague terms, the demise of many malls in the U.S., and in Canada. It's a real phenomenon: Trafalgar Village was redeveloped into a Home Depot in Oakville; Unicity was redeveloped into a Walmart in Winnipeg, with many others around North America. 'Malls R Us' illustrates this trend with images of abandoned or near-abandoned malls. These images are sad; of course, in the same way that driving through an older town's largely abandoned downtown is sad. The program then goes on to show where new malls are happening: in the developing economies of Asia, and in the hyper-rich areas of the Middle East.
The odd thing about the approach is that, I feel like I'm being asked to be sad and nostalgic for the malls closing around me, while malls are definitely postured as environmentally unsound and destructive to existing local economies where they are being built. It struck me as an odd clash of sentiments. 'Malls R Us' disappointed me with a real lack of information, or hypothesis, or presentation of an alternative. Why malls are closing, or going down-market in North America, really isn't explored beyond an insinuation that it is due to the rise of the big-box retailer. I'd like a more complete understanding of that trend. Yes, business migrated over a few decades from 'downtown' to the suburban malls, and now it is migrating from suburban malls to big box retail. It's hard not to pick up an insinuation that 'we consumers' should have spent our dollars in the downtown stores, and having failed to do that, we should spend them in the malls, rather than at Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Staples. I've yet to see a creditable analysis as to what might be the practical basis for that sentiment. Perhaps the 10% or 15% saved is truly meaningful to those in that part of the economy where outgo and inflow are pretty much the same?
'Malls R Us' aligned malls with the values of 'conspicuous consumption'. I'm not sure that's fair. I'm old enough to remember 8 story Eaton's stores in downtowns; what preceded malls certainly promoted conspicuous consumption, as do the big box stores that follow. I would have liked much more information, to answer some of the questions I had and still have.
Edit: So, I just realized that length of 'Malls R Us' is shown as 78 mins; the presentation that I saw was squeezed down into a 58 or so minute slot. I hate when they do that.
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