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5 in-store technologies that will save the American mall

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5 in-store technologies that will save the American mall

Published: December 13, 2017

It’s an understatement to say that American malls are having a hard time. In the next five years, 20-25% of American malls are set to close, according to Credit Suisse.

Why have Americans deserted the nation’s most iconic retail fixtures? It’s certainly not because shoppers are spending less. Since 2010, U.S. consumer spending rose from less than $10 trillion to nearly $12 trillion in July 2017. Meanwhile, between 2010 and 2013 alone, mall visits declined by 50% and since then, they’ve been free-falling.

The easy answer is that Amazon has eaten malls’ lunch. Between 2010 and 2016, Amazon sales quintupled from $16 billion to $80 billion, and 50% of American households are Prime members.

The harder answer, frankly, is that malls haven’t kept up with technology — a major reason Amazon got a foothold in the first place. Technologies like augmented and virtual reality, mobile beacons and chatbots are viable in retail contexts, but most malls have yet to adopt them.

Still, malls have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. They occupy prime locations and retailers are generally getting better at satisfying customers. During the 2016 holiday season, the American Customer Satisfaction Index awarded brick-and-mortar retailers 78 out of 100 points for customer satisfaction, up 4.7 percent from the prior report and an all-time high for the industry and Westfield Malls just sold for $15.7 billion.

It’s easy to look at the data and see a bleak fate for malls. But there are emerging technologies that have the potential to restore Americans’ penchant for malls. Malls aren’t dead, but they are changing.

Assuming they tap into these technologies, America’s malls will look far different by 2020.

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