Malls losing their grip on US and Canada

North Americans are abandoning traditional enclosed malls, and are flocking instead to open-air lifestyle centres or main street shopping, according to a retail expert in Canada.

At the recent conference for the International Council of Shopping Centres (ICSC) in Calgary, Canada, Ian Thomas, chairman of Vancouver-based Thomas Consultants Inc, said: 'Consumers are no longer infatuated with the mall. They were disenchanted with the sterile, mind-numbing homogeneity of malls. Consumers wanted something different.'

According to figures from the ICSC, the gross leaseable area for lifestyle centres in the US alone, which incorporates standalone shops, restaurants and cafes, now exceeds 33 million sq ft (3 million sq m), of which one-third was added in the past two years.

Thomas added that malls were becoming unpopular with time-poor shoppers, mostly working women, who do not want to pass several shops when they need a particular purchase. Instead they want to drive to a store, buy and leave.