The mall experience has become too generic and the overheads imposed on small retailers has stifled innovation. The big chain stores get a better rental price, and sell high margin jewellery and women’s fashion, so it works for them.
For boutique or small businesses, the mall’s charges mean the business owner is working for less than wages and assuming all the risk. Some mall owners deliberately push business to go broke by demanding upgrades in year 2 of a 3 year lease. Owner goes broke, mall bankrupts them and re-lets the place. Thus getting three 3-year term leases over a 3 year period. Adds nicely to the profit.
Customers are getting sick of the sameness, so malls are adding new ‘attractions’ to promote shopping there. No new malls have been built in the USA since 1985 (? from memory).
With people spending so much of their life on social media and mobile devices, I think that online shopping will replace malls. The ‘touch and feel’ of shopping will be lost by shoppers, but we are all so time poor that the shopping activity needs to be almost as instant as ordering a pizza.
Therefore, malls will likely evolve into recreational activities – with related shopping or upsells (“Get a video for only $x extra” – “Tell your friends for a discount” etc.).