James Jones: Shopping malls across country fading away

Published 10:12 am Thursday, April 18, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

A tradition I grew up with as a child is slowly fading away.

The shopping malls all over the country have been in great decline over the last 20 years. 

I always hung out at the mall on Saturday evenings. Oftentimes, I’d get dropped off by five and get picked up around nine,, hanging with friends during that time. At the age of 13, that was freedom that I appreciated until getting a driver’s license three years later.

Email newsletter signup

Several factors are the reason for the disappearance of malls:

  • The emergence of Amazon and shopping on-line. During the 2000s, on-line shopping kept growing, and the dot-com bubble bursting showed big shifts in retail. Malls struggled to compete against on-line stores.
  • The growth in alternative shopping and entertainment options.
  • The shift of mid-priced and upscale brands to discount retailers, including Wal-Mart, Costco, Ross, Dollar General, TJ Maxx, and Five Below.
  • The Great Recession of 2008-2009 also hurt malls. Sears, Macy’s, JCPenney and Belk closed in some areas and malls did not replace them.
  • Movie theaters slowly separated themselves from the mall and got their own space.  

To me that was a major blow to malls, especially to McFarland Mall in Tuscaloosa. Memories of being at the Fox 12 Theater at night with my girlfriend in high school and college remain fresh in my mind. It was hard at times concentrating on the movie when you have a beautiful date, and I won’t apologize.

  • Some malls have become outdated in terms of design and amenities, making them less appealing to modern shoppers who prefer a contemporary and comfortable environment.

In my opinion, the Selma Mall is a perfect example of being outdated. Belk is no longer at the mall, years after JCPenney left. Some stores still exist in the mall, but without a JCPenney or Belk, how can the mall survive?

Shopping malls are disappearing around the country. At least I have memories that will stay with me forever.


James Jones is the managing editor of The Selma Times-Journal. He can be reached at james.jones@selmatimesjournal.com.