July 27, 2017

Cathedrals of Consumerism Losing Their Congregations

Is this the beginning of the end of consumerism?

I never did like shopping malls much. Therefore, now that they are an endangered species, I am not mourning, despite having a twinge of nostalgia when I think about them.

"Corridor of nothing."

When I was a young dungaree-wearing hooligan, my friends and I would congregate at the new mall in my hometown for "something to do". But then, as now, I was not buying anything. It was more about the social aspect, and staying one step ahead of mall security.

 “Two million square feet of echo.”

Because malls were for shopping, not loitering. Not buying anything? Get out. What a difference a few decades make - now hardly anyone is buying anything at the mall.

Besides nostalgia, I find malls fascinating from a ghost town perspective. There is something to be learned from our futile failed experiments, including this one, that started with the first mall in the 1950s. I consider it a good thing that our cathedrals of consumerism are finally losing their congregations.

"Almost one-fifth of the nation’s enclosed malls have vacancy rates considered troubling by real estate experts — 10 percent or greater. Over 3 percent of malls are considered to be dying — with 40 percent vacancies or higher. That is up from less than 1 percent in 2006." - NYT 

I wish the demise of the mall was because we have decided that overconsumption is so, like, 80s, and we are moving on to a more ecologically aware way of living. Maybe it is. We are going through monumental changes right now when it comes to shopping and our relationship with materialism. We know that the priests of commerce lied, and that salvation can not be bought at the mall. Or anywhere else.

“There’s no customers, but they have a customer-service desk”

Are shopping malls endangered because their parents, consumerism and institutionalized greed, are themselves endangered species? Is humanity, dare I say, evolving into an eco-consciousness the likes of which we have not experienced for a very long time? Dream big, I say.

Goodbye, malls. I won't miss you, or any of that stuff that I didn't buy. Don't worry, it's not you, it's us.

A report issued by Credit Suisse in June predicted that 20 to 25 percent of the more than 1,000 existing enclosed malls in America will close in the next five years.


  1. Anonymous7/28/2017

    Consumerism is speeding up, people can shop 24 7 online and and order junk food on the phone.
    It's nice to see so many young people going minimalist, vegan and alcohol free. The young are wising up to it all.

  2. The malls in nearby cities here are closing. I see that some of the big retailers are going bankrupt or nearly so. Some of it is the change to online shopping and I truly believe that younger people don't have the need or desire to own the things that my generation did.

    The older generation is now downsizing and their kids don't want the collectables and antiques that they are trying to pawn off on them. My 30ish family members want mobility and experience based fun, not a house full of crap.

    It does give one hope!

  3. I really wish that were the case. What's truly amazing is the reach of the online stores, especially Amazon. I work for USPS, we have become a vector for the consumerist disease. It was bad when I began 15 years ago, and so much worse now. I feel very separated from the work that gives me a paycheck, like Neo in the Matrix. I see each package as a placater of hoarded emotions, self medicating but self destructive. We are a medium sized, urban office, and I can only imagine what the scope is for 31,585 US Post Offices.


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