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Upscale mall bucks the trend that sees other malls dying out

Some malls in the Charlotte region area find ways to not only survive but actually thrive.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — You’ve probably heard experts saying shopping malls are dying, and in some cases that’s true. Experts tell us a third of the malls we have now will soon disappear.

But some malls in the Charlotte region area are getting creative to not just survive, but actually thrive.

Holly Van Cleave is the Marketing Director at SouthPark Mall and said that the future of the mall is "looking great." 

But according to industry experts, while that may be true at the upscale Charlotte mall, that is not the case with all malls.

"The future of malls is a little up in the air right now, a lot around the country have struggled in recent years," Nate Berg, a reporter who covers real estate for Fast Company, said. 

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 "Of the thousand malls, there could be a third of them gone within the next couple of years," Queens University Marketing Professor Steven Cox said.

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In fact, there were more than 40,000 malls across the country back in 1998. Now there are just about 1,000 and Cox believes that more will soon go under, in part because anchor stores like Macy’s are closing in many malls.

"Now what you have left are smaller stores that don’t drive enough traffic to support the mall, so the issue becomes can these malls survive? No, they can’t – can they be repurposed? Possibly," Cox said. "Some malls are shifting to housing or even turning into medical facilities, some are turning into offices." 

But Berg points out, that in some places, malls are thriving, especially in small towns where the mall may be the only place to shop for miles.

"A lot of people are saying these places are dying and yet there are some, even within a city there may be one or two finding their niche and able to make it," Berg said.

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Charlotte’s SouthPark Mall is not only surviving but thriving, in part because they’re becoming more than just a place to shop, but a destination.

"With a new play area and green space, to sit and chill and the addition of Suffolk Punch you can grab a beer," Van Cleave said.

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The Marketing Director for SouthPark mall also believes the recent addition of Gucci and other luxury brands has proven to others that Charlotte is a hot market.

"We have a lot of new leases coming in this year and into the next couple of years and brands wanting to be here, waiting on space to get in," Van Cleave said. 

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The mall has also opened 13 new stores since January 2021. Twelve more will open at South Park by the end of this year. They only have one store that's not spoken for.

Brands already opened in SouthPark Mall include:

  • UNOde50: Handcrafted Spanish jewelry
  • Hive & Colony: Bespoke suit supplier

Brands coming soon to SouthPark Mall include:

  • Tag Heuer: Opening in June: Luxury Swiss watchmaker
  • Blue Nile: Opening in July: World’s leading diamond jeweler online for engagement/ wedding rings
  • Levis: Opening in August: Iconic American denim brand

Our experts said one of the big issues for some of the closures at other malls is that in many cases the land the mall is on is worth more than the building and the stores inside.

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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