IPX1031 Insight Blog

America’s Abandoned Malls Data Study 2023 + Map

Referenced in:

America’s Abandoned Malls: 61% Wish Malls Would Make a Comeback  

The decline of traditional shopping malls has been a well-documented trend in recent years.


As online shopping becomes increasingly popular, many malls and department stores have struggled to attract customers, leading to closures and abandoned retail spaces across the country. To learn more about what Americans want to see done with these empty buildings and their opinions on shopping malls, we surveyed more than 1,000 people from across the country. The survey found many people are nostalgic for malls: in fact, more than half of Americans wish malls would have a comeback.


Shopping Mall Nostalgia: 50% of Americans Miss Going to Malls   

Shopping Mall Closures Impact on Americans 2023 Infographic

Nearly 2 in 3 (61%) Americans want to see a revival of traditional shopping malls. In fact, Gen Z and Gen X wish malls would have a revival the most, followed by Millennials and Baby Boomers. Because of this sentiment, it’s not surprising half of Americans miss going to the mall.

Americans are drawn to malls for a number of reasons. When it comes to the favorite aspects of a mall, the convenience of multiple stores close together tops the list, followed by window shopping, food courts, socializing, and department stores. In fact, 1 in 10 say the closure of shopping centers has impacted their social life.

Closed down malls are a familiar sight for many, as 68% of Americans live within one hour of a ‘dead mall’ and 2 in 5 live near two or more dead malls. A ‘dead mall’ is a shopping mall with a high vacancy rate, low consumer traffic level, or abandoned altogether. As for completely shuttered spaces, 28% of Americans had an abandoned mall torn down where they live in the last 5 years.

The top reasons Americans believe malls have closed include the rise of online shopping (78%), economic recession (46%), poor management (35%), opening of competing shopping centers (31%), and the COVID-19 pandemic (25%). Many also note the closures affect more than just the shopping spaces: 62% believe mall closures negatively impacted their local economy.


Reimagining Abandoned Malls Across America 

The Future of Abandoned Shopping Malls in the U.S. 2023 Infographic

What’s to be done with all that space? Americans want to see parks or other green space replacing abandoned malls most. People would also be happy to see the buildings turned into community centers, converted into living spaces, converted into local businesses, or turned into new retail space.

Additionally, 3 in 4 think the government should give incentives for repurposing abandoned malls. Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) would even be willing to pay higher taxes to have the abandoned buildings turned into community spaces or housing.

By analyzing Google search data for terms related to “malls near me,” we also found the states most interested in shopping at malls. Interestingly enough, states with colder climates don’t seem to be drawn to malls, but many warmer places are. Florida tops the list, followed by Hawaii, Nevada, Maryland, and Georgia. Rounding out the top ten is Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado, New Jersey, and Virginia.


The Future of Shopping Malls in America 

Americans Opinions and Use of Shopping Malls 2023 Infographic

Currently, almost all Americans (94%) have an open mall within one hour of where they live. However, the frequency of visits varies widely, with 15% going to the mall multiple times a month, and 24% who haven’t gone in the last year. When asked why they still go to malls, Americans cited specific stores, the convenience of having multiple stores in one spot, the ability to look at items in person, food courts, and movie theaters as the top reasons.

When it comes to shopping preferences, 3 in 4 favor indoor shopping malls and 40% wish a mall would open in their area. A main reason why people want more malls could be because 1 in 4 don’t think there are enough stores where they live. Because of this and other factors, 61% say they prefer to shop online.

One notable finding is that almost one-third of respondents (27%) don’t feel safe going to malls. Another 24% avoid going to malls altogether due to safety concerns.

While the majority of Americans shop online, it looks like people are ready for a change and want to go back to the time when going to a mall was a frequent tradition with friends and family. While it remains to be seen whether the nostalgia for malls will translate into a revival of these retail space, it is clear that for some, the closure of malls has had a tangible impact on their lives.

Own empty retail space? One way to jumpstart repurposing malls is to exchange the property for another and invest in rejuvenating retail. Read how here Underperforming Real Estate Assets Ripe for 1031. Or if you’re considering becoming an investment property owner, or already own an investment property, click here to learn more about how a 1031 Exchange can help preserve your assets when selling and buying. Then check out our Capital Gain Estimator to see how much you could potentially defer through a 1031 Exchange. You can find more information here about Investment Property Exchange Services, Inc. (IPX1031), the nation’s largest 1031 Exchange company.


In May 2023, we conducted a survey of 1,005 people from around the U.S. Among respondents, 49% identified as male and 48% as female, with an average age of 41.

To rank the states most interested in shopping malls, we analyzed nearly 300 Google search terms related to “malls near me” from April 2022-March 2023. We took the average number of monthly searches for each state and calculated the searches per 100,000 residents.

For media inquiries, contact media@digitalthirdcoast.net

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When using this data and research, please attribute by linking to this study and citing IPX1031.

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