shopping centre with consumers
Australia

Post LockDown Possibilities for Retail Centres

Worst-case Scenario

I think we all are aware that brands and stores may not survive the financial hiatus resulting from the pandemic. Together with the shift in the popularity of online shopping, the enforced elimination of in-person appointments and alternative home delivery methods, what if shopping malls could become a relic of the past?

Already anchor shopping centre retailers, like Kmart and Myer are closing stores and looking at ways they can down-size their in-store presence.

Shopping malls might become ghost towns, abandoned places left to rack and ruin, post-Covid.

Might it be possible that abandoned locations such as those could undergo a phoenix-like transformation should the worst happen in a post-pandemic environment?

A Silver Lining

With a little alteration, abandoned malls could become emergency shelters or accommodation for the homeless or disadvantaged folks. The infrastructure exists – services such as lighting, electricity and plumbing etc could be re-connected.

Small stores might easily be converted to residential rooms and larger stores to dormitory or dining areas. The homeless or troublesome graffiti artistis will infiltrate abandoned places anyway!

There could be retraining and shelter facilities, hardware stores could become areas for learning trades or sheltered workshops.

Photo credit: Tweed News

Is it pessimistic to think that this might unfortunately come to pass, or that a rejuvenation in a humanitarian form even possible?

All is Not Lost

There are reports and discussions occurring about opening up society again and how our Government could gradually do it.

The process has started, with parks and playgrounds re-opening, as our Covid new case rate is relatively low, compared to some other countries. Travel between Australia and New Zealand might even be allowed in the coming months.

Mortgages in abeyance will still have to paid. If the employment is there, can they play catch up when income has been severely restricted or absent for several months? If not, then more emergency shelter accommodation will be needed.

Time will tell.

Where am I

Hopefully, your shopping mall an small business will survive and rise to the challenges of online business.

Sunday Saying

Things are never so bad that they are not good for something.

Aldri så gale er godt for noko

Swedish Proverb

We look for the silver lining.

64 thoughts on “Post LockDown Possibilities for Retail Centres”

  1. It’s definitely a thought. Our nearest city is a small one and of course there isn’t a shopping mall of the kind you describe. Sadly though, we’ll have plenty of shops going out of business I guess, so they could well be re-purposed as homes. Britain has a severe housing shortage, so why not?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Too many people sleep out under the stars every night. So why can’t we think for a solution out of the box? If there is no mall, then maybe smaller shops could work. They did this in a mining town in Australia during the boom when there was no accommodation for workers. The cost on the health system might even be reduced somewhat than if nothing is done.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, but there’s always a way round them. I used to live near Whiteley’s in London. A former department store, turned shopping centre which is now luxury flats. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. There we go. Now someone else had this idea and it came to fruition. The shopping centres are often in ideal location for transport so the potential for accommodation makes it attractive to seniors and commuters alike. I will have to look up this place, to see if I can find it on the net.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, time will tell. I do worry about small scale local businesses and the economic effects of this pandemic. It’s an interesting thought to consider how shopping centres could be better utilised.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have had relatively comfortable times in our life for business and personal wealth. Now we are faced with unpleasant outcomes for some businesses and and must face the fact that people will struggle because there is no simple solution. That is the most worrying aspect.

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  3. Malls have closed in the USA. Not sure about elsewhere. I’m not a mall shopper so it really doesn’t affect me. That said, I agonise for all the people who will/might lose their jobs and/or livelihoods. Willingly drop money into the hats of those who are saying they are homeless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Those of us who have no shelter issues, and have enough food to put on the table each day have a responsibility to help those in need and are struggling. Thank you for helping them, Peggy. You are a kind person.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am not a fan of shopping malls, so I really haven’t missed them. My 87 year old Dad though, does miss his morning walk around the mall. In suburban Toronto, malls are open early, before the stores, so that people can do a morning laps for exercise. These are mostly seniors and retirees who appreciate the respite from extreme Canadian weather.
    This makes me think that refurbished malls would be ideal for senior residences. Retail space could be halved (they’ll still need groceries & pharmacies) and walk-in medical & dental care could be added. They’d have to keep the food court and McDonalds of course. After the morning walk, that’s where all the old-timers congregate for coffee, muffins and gossip.
    I’m liking this idea. Amanda, do you know of any real estate investors? I’m available for idea-tion consulting. My rates are very reasonable 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wish I did know some property developers better. I think we have a concept here. I love your take on it. It has probably been thought of but until recently the aged care industry didn’t hold any monetary attraction. If the Moth won lotto, we could invest, although there aren’t that many abandoned centres yet…. things might change in coming months.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Love the proverb, for us it’s “one mans junk is another mans treasure” everyone benefits. Living in a small country town businesses are open again & other than social distancing it almost feels normal. We’ve had no covid cases here, its interesting our local supermarkets & take away’s have actually employed more people for their delivery services. I will be interested to see if people start selling their excess vegies they have grown over this time, creating little pockets of profit everywhere.

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    1. That is great news! Some really positive news for the country! Especially regards employment and finances. I do like proverbs and the one you mention is very true. My M-i-l is the best exponent of that. I love recycling old things into new. The country areas must have a wealth of hidden treasures?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Amanda it’s a real waiting game isn’t to see what changes are to come about. One things for sure, there will be changes… I never thought I’d see anything that would change the world more than 9/11 did, but I think this has the capacity to make Sept 11 look like almost like a non-event. I think there were to many food eating places before to be reasonably sustained, but this is going to be a sad end for them. The same with other shops both big and small. Most retail will be really feeling this.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you’re right Chris. The Cafe and Throwaway Society was a little out of control, I feel. Whilst everyone was out and about, was this really sustainable in the long term? The attrition rate for coffee shops and cafes was very high. Then there is the question of sustainability in environmental terms. Do we really need all of them? If so, why why do we need all of them? Why do we need so many? It is a luxury perhaps that the planet and the economy could no longer afford. The case for making money and profits drives people to radical measures like continually increasing productivity costs which leads to shorter shifts fir workers wuth no accompanying reduction in work. Employers trying to cut or keep wages down. Ultimately, society in general ends up poorer for it. Maybe Covid will inadvertently encorage a cleaner, more sustainable society. Albeit perhaps with an increading under class of poor.

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  7. I’ve seen many many malls, for a few decades now, succumb to changing retail environments, and, transitional to being offices for medical centers, etc. There’s lots of parking already there, and usually, a nice indoor walking area. Remember when all the stores were all downtown, in tall (5 stories+) bldgs? It’s a challenge, but change‘ll happen either way. So I’m “relatively” optimistic 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am pleased that you are optimistic, Felipe and we do need more options for medical services. They do have indoor walking groups at our enclosed centres, until Covid. I assume they will begin again. It is great that they can operate in all kinds of weathers. Perhaps they might become delivery centres/warehouses for the online products?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You suggest inserting occupants who would offer social services of some kind. This is a laudable notion. These occupants would not be economically self-sufficient. Such social safe-havens would probably be underutilized. Could they impact the local economies to any extent as did the former occupants? Investors and financial institutions will be only too happy to utilize the space. The pandemic is not going to usher in an ear of liberalism. Actually, the opposite is true.

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    1. I was thinking more along the lines of boarding houses or shelters that would be funded by existing Governmental social services or the National Disability Insurance Scheme – supported accommodation facilities and the like. Or alternatively, as one commenter suggested as an aged care/senior facility. We have an expanding aging population with little space in the nursing homes, so these centres could easily be converted to such facilities without the construction overheads. The aged care industry here, at least, turns a profit. I am unsure whether you are thinking in economic terms in a country without a welfare system, Paul?
      As I said, if these centres do become unoccupied, the homeless will move in regardless, and the cost to Government in security, removal, clean up and rehoming of these people would be comparatively exorbitant. As for Investors: attracting investments here isn’t easy, financial institutions have taken a battering with recent Royal commissions of inquiry, all businesses are downsizing plus there is suspicion towards Chinese investment. Investors are unable to rent homes for the prive that will repay their mortgage so why would they be interested in expansion?

      https://www.lovemoney.com/galleries/86732/abandoned-shopping-malls-and-stores-across-the-world
      I did not presume Covid will usher in an era of liberalism, but rather a mindset of thinking out of the box on how to use what we have, with WHAT we have, not what we DON’T.

      Like

    1. A lot of people feel like you, Lisa. They want to try on clothes and shoes rather than buying online. Covid has increased the appeal of this method of purchase exponentially. I will be interested to see if the rate of online purchases lasts in a post pandemic world. Do you source your veges from a street market.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have a once a week wednesday morning street market.. I buy there, Just normal supermarket or Grand Frais which is an amazing fresh produce market. Veggies and fruts from all over the world. They also have dairy, all sorts of flours and cooking things and an amazing selection of dried fruits and nuts..

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I love your proverb and your silver linings, Amanda!! I hope we can see some of that in reality. I’d like to see things reopen and people be able to save their livelihoods. But hopefully it will be done with health and welfare in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Marlene, it would be wonderful if health and welfare could be foremost in the planner’s mind when redevelopment is in the making. Another blogger mentioned the conversion of a shopping mall in Austin to an educational facility for a University. Another great initiative for reusing redundant shopping mall.
      I am glad you like the proverb. It is meaningful to me. It is a similar message as the silver linings.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re the second blogger today that I’ve read who has spoken of a silver lining. I like that idea. I know that in a small city not too far from here the abandoned downtown mall [before COVID-19] has been turned into a community college. Classes are held there and students can hang out in the former food court. There are ways to make some good come from this pandemic if we look for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was pleased to hear that there are several places in the world where ex shopping centres are already living a new life!
      I agree that it is great to focus on what positive we can draw from the pandemic. There are many that were not apparent at first.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I like that quote – and so believe that much good comes from
    The bad- sometimes it is the only way to get the good.
    And not sure if you know this – but your blog post on toilet paper hoarding was the first pandemic post I read -well
    It came for me when we were just get readying to “shut down” and then a week or two later we saw the hoarding here.

    I sometimes think of that post- 🧻- when I see how things are progressing
    And coming here tonight I see this mention of reopening and the thoughts about the shopping malls and potential retail space being used for what you wrote about – wow

    Like

    1. Now it is my turn to compliment you on your words. “The bad is sometimes the only way to get to the good.” I will remember this. It is a sound, grounded response to someone who has lost hope that things could ever get better.
      We were a little ahead of US with the hoarding. Presumably, the virus came to our shores little earlier as we are closer to Asia and have more Asian travellers, perhaps?
      I do hope that the skipping masks can be re-purposed, although we havent yet seen any close down yet. It will come though. News today that Department stores are closing 50- 90 stores, in one chain and changing or combining another 100. Apparently, some malls have been converted to educational University colleges in Austin.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. This was an interesting read and the following conversation added to it too. I’m not a mall user and have been increasingly an online shopper for a decade now. I do very little shopping apart from art supplies which I tend to overindulge in…… I like your idea of abandoned shopping malls being put to good social use. An immediate use could be as a quarantine centre when/if the borders open up. And of course I like the idea of supplying rooms and venues and facilities for those who are in need. A dedicated community NGO would be the way to go on that one I think. Of course this is all off the top of my head especially as it is just after 6am and I am on first coffee 🙂 It does occur to me too that here anyway, the shut down has been too brief to inculcate a genuine need to change from the old ways that have been responsible for the state of the world. There are too many who still look for a return to normal, who look to find a way to make money from the suffering of others and still way too many who believe economics is the only way to run the world. Personally I hope for change but with every passing day I see options being missed….. I live in hope though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see that we are on the same wavelength. That we look for improved humanitarian ways of change, rather than that driven by the dollar only. Business here has to be so competitive it is hard for it to be driven by vision. Money speaks but visionaries don’t pay the bills. I don’t want to get political but the media’s roles in preventing traction of alternate views frustrates me. Like you, there are options being missed, and no one gets to hear of them. We can only make a difference in our little corner of the world and try to gently educate others through awareness. Thank you for your enlightened comment. Besides living in hope and spreading awareness, is there something else you think we can do?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I think we are on the same wavelength too – there are more of us than ever before, though our voices are not yet united or heard. Your question takes me back to my thought of (here anyway) the ‘great pause’ being over too quickly. I think it takes a much longer time for the understanding that change is necessary to really take hold of people’s hearts and minds. An intellectual thought only springs into life when the heart is also involved, when feelings have been aroused and when we see clearly that we (I) need to do something now to help bring about the change I wish to see. When I ask ‘What can I do?’ instead of looking to see what the government will do to save me, then maybe we will have the type of forward movement we want to see.

        Personally, I know that right now I’m very much in wait and see mode. It is still early days. We don’t know yet what this virus will do. Will it keep spreading, will it mutate or if it will simply grow bored with us and disappear off into the ether again. In this country we are taking a calculated risk that it is contained sufficiently for attention to turn to the economic impacts of closing down the country for two months. Businesses need to start operating again, people need to return to their jobs or look for new ones. Attention is very much given to life as we knew it returning as much as it can.

        And from this situation my thought is that now is the time for the young, energetic, entrepreneurial men and women with a social conscious to look about and see what is needed and to be encouraged to utilise their interests, abilities and skills to work in their communities to heal, to bridge the gaps, to offer helping hands in a myriad of ways. And if there are older people around with the same mindset to mentor, to assist, to guide and encourage, so much the better.

        There are conversations going on – we are involved in the one you began here on your blog now, and that has to be good right?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I love these words of yours: “An intellectual thought only springs into life when the heart is also involved, when feelings have been aroused and when we see clearly that we (I) need to do something now to help bring about the change I wish to see.”
          I think you are correct in that passion needs to be there for an idea to become more than just a passing thought. When the heart is involved, there is passion. I’m also a fan of the positive aspects of Corona and lament things going back to the same old tried and tested and failing model of civilisation. Some things were/are better in the great pause. The planet is able to breathe again. We can see starts, animal populations are beginning to advance rather than retreat, business is seen as not the essential all encompassing force it once was. Goodness me, climate change was all over the media every day, and now nothing but Covid, Covid Covid. How long since mainstream radio mentioned Greta Thunberg?
          I also agree we should always remember the JFK style philosophy: What can we do for our country? Rather than: what can the Government do for us? Legendary thoughts. They should be essential thoughts.
          Let’s keep the conversation going.
          Do you have a background in humanities/environment/community action?

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            1. Okay, there is another parrellel between us. Medically trained as a Nurse, I gave it up to study the Environment via correspondence for eight years. Then worked for NGo’s and ‘Not For Profits’ – and now very close to retiring.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Heaven help us if we ever meet up! 🙂 I’m chuckling away here at the mere thought. I imagine we could put the world to rights and tell some stories while we did so! I’m well retired now and supposed to be growing old gracefully, keeping my opinions to myself and smiling benignly upon the world. Alas I fail every day 😀 But you know today was a beautiful day. The morning was still and quiet when puppy and I headed off for our walk about 7.30. Still not quite light down here in the Riviera of Antarctica. No traffic to be heard, just birds busy waking up and getting ready to go scratch for their breakfast in the damp grass of the park. Just me and my little fella and the birds wandering about and enjoying the smells and sounds and the light of the coming day. I arrived back home all zenned up and grateful for my life and feeling at peace with all that is and all that will be.

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  13. I can see ypu have a keen and observant eye and like to be up early, as I do.
    Keeping opinions to yourself? I don’t believe you and I could do that as we would have sooo much to discuss!
    Solving the world’s problems? Why shouldn’t we? New ideas might help!
    How long have you been retired?

    Like

  14. Hi Amanda, Shopping malls becoming ghost towns is a real possibility. We have some complicated scenarios happening around our city, too, right now. Bandaid solutions for now. Yes, looking for the silver lining.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The silver lining might always be there somewhere, Eric/ka and if it isn’t, it doesn’t hurt to look at the situation from a different perspective. I do hope this worst case scenario doesn’t come along, and perhaps in some countries there is already light at the end of the tunnel. Time will tell how this pans out. Is there a reluctance to return to the shops in person in your community, Eric/ka?

      Liked by 1 person

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