Have you ever wanted to ride a roller coaster, then go shopping for jeans?
It’s a strange day plan, but it’s something you can do at the Mall of America. On Aug. 11, the supersized shopping center turns 25 years old. Why has this mall survived when so many malls have had to shut their doors? The answer has everything to do with why people thought the Mall of America would fail when it first opened.
Many people thought the idea of a mall so extravagant would ultimately fail. It was simply too large to stay in business.
And “large,” by the way, is a bit of an understatement. The Mall of America encompasses 5.6 million square feet of space, lit by eight acres of skylights. Shoppers can visit 520 stores, visit the 1.3-million gallon aquarium, ride the rides, or participate in more than 400 events held at the mall.
The visionaries behind the mall wanted to create a whole new shopping experience. Naturally, that prompted a response from critics.
Right before the park officially opened, media outlets expressed their concerns over the Mall of America business plan. The Los Angeles Times wrote the addition of amusement park rides in the mall seemed risky. Douglas Shifflet, president of the D.K. Shifflet & Associates Ltd. travel research firm, doubted that the mall could bring in the 45 million customers-per-year
However, the plan proved successful because, as of today, four out of 10 visitors are tourists. That’s shown to be an exceptionally strong lifeline for America’s greatest mall.
The Fall of The Mall
The last decade has been hard on the retail industry. Online shopping dealt a severe blow to commercial shopping centers. More and more people find it easier to purchase whatever they need in the comfort of their homes rather than fight the crowds and pay higher prices at brick-and-mortar stores. From 2010–2016, Amazon’s North American sales revenue grew from $16 billion to $80 billion. In contrast, Sears has lost over $10 billion since 2010. The numbers don’t lie; physical stores are losing the battle with online deals.
Another problem: There were simply too many malls. According to research analysts Cowen and Company, malls went up twice as fast as the population grew between 1970 and 2015. The 2008 recession caused a dip in sales and a decline in mall visitors. Unfortunately, those numbers haven’t recovered since then.
Fortunately, the Mall of America continues to thrive, bringing in about $2 billion in revenue to the state of Minnesota. There’s no real secret, as the Mall of America has been doing what it always did: add attractions.
“The vision for Mall of America has always been more than a shopping center, it’s the intersection of the best in retail, entertainment and dining, and above all, a destination for friends and family to gather and make memories,” said Jill Renslow, SVP of Marketing and Business Development for Mall of America, in a press release. “We’ve been a leader in retail and entertainment for 25 years, and we’re looking forward to 25 more.”