Many early shopping arcades such the Burlington Arcade in London, the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, and numerous arcades in Paris are famous and still trading. However, many smaller arcades have been demolished, replaced with large centers or "malls", often accessible by vehicle. Technical innovations such as electric lighting and escalators were introduced from the late 19th century.
From the late 20th century, entertainment venues such as and began to be added. As a single built structure, early shopping centers were often architecturally significant constructions, enabling wealthier patrons to buy goods in spaces protected from the weather.
In the United Kingdom and Ireland, "malls" are commonly referred to as shopping centres. Mall primarily refers to either a shopping mall – a place where a collection of shops all adjoin a pedestrian area – or an exclusively pedestrianized street that allows shoppers to walk without interference from vehicle traffic. In North America, mall is generally used to refer to a large shopping area usually composed of a single building which contains multiple shops, usually "anchored" by one or more department stores surrounded by a parking lot, while the term "arcade" is more often used, especially in Britain, to refer to a narrow pedestrian-only street, often covered or between closely spaced buildings (see town centre).
The majority of British shopping centres are located in city centres, usually found in old and historic shopping districts and surrounded by subsidiary open air shopping streets. Large examples include West Quay in Southampton; Manchester Arndale; Bullring Birmingham; Liverpool One; Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow; and Eldon Square in Newcastle upon Tyne. In addition to the inner city shopping centres, large UK will also have large out-of-town "regional malls" such as Meadowhall Centre, Sheffield serving South Yorkshire, the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester and Bluewater in Kent. These centres were built in the 1980s and 1990s, but planning regulations prohibit the construction of any more. Out-of-town shopping developments in the UK are now focused on , which consist of groups of warehouse style shops with individual entrances from outdoors. Planning policy prioritizes the development of existing town centres, although with patchy success. Westfield Stratford City, in Stratford (London), is the largest shopping centre in Europe with over 330 shops, 50 restaurants and an 11 screen cinema and Westfield London is the largest inner-city shopping center in Europe. Bullring, Birmingham is the busiest shopping centre in the UK welcoming over 36.5 million shoppers in its opening year. There are a reported 222 malls in Europe. In 2014, these malls had combined sales of $12.47 billion. This represented a 10% bump in revenues from the prior year.
Gostiny Dvor in St. Petersburg, which opened in 1785, may be regarded as one of the first purposely-built mall-type shopping complexes, as it consisted of more than 100 shops covering an area of over .
The Passage du Caire was opened in Paris in 1798. The Burlington Arcade in London was opened in 1819. Westminster Arcade in Providence, Rhode Island introduced the retail arcade concept to the United States in 1828. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy followed in the 1870s and is closer to large modern malls in spaciousness. Other large cities created arcades and shopping centers in the late 19th century and early 20th century, including the Cleveland Arcade, Dayton Arcade and Moscow's GUM, which opened in 1890. Early shopping centers designed for the automobile include Market Square, Lake Forest, Illinois (1916), and Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri (1924).
An early indoor mall prototype in the United States was the Lake View Store at Morgan Park, Duluth, Minnesota, which was built in 1915 and held its grand opening on July 20, 1916. The architect was Dean and Dean from Chicago and the building contractor was George H. Lounsberry from Duluth. The building is two stories with a full basement, and shops were originally located on all three levels. All of the stores were located within the interior of the mall; some shops were accessible from the inside and out.
In the mid-20th century, with the rise of the suburb and automobile culture in the United States, a new style of shopping center was created away from downtown. Icons of Cleveland: The Arcade. Cleveland Magazine, August 2009. From early on, the design tended to be inward-facing, with malls following theories of how customers could best be enticed in a controlled environment. Similar, the concept of a mall having one or more "" or "big box stores" was pioneered early, with individual stores or smaller-scale intended to benefit from the shoppers attracted by the big stores. Mall construction in America was encouraged by the accelerated depreciation laws of 1954, which incentivized greenfield development on the urban fringe. A second stimulus came from legislation passed in 1960, which allowed investors to band together in REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) to avoid corporate income taxes. The laws helped to shape the familiar exurban landscape of malls, motels, and fast food chains. By year end 2015, the total amount of retail space per person in the United States will be 48.3 square feet. This is off from the high of 49.8 square feet set in 2009. It is projected that this figure will continue to decline through 2020.
The early shopping center in the United States took shape at the Grandview Avenue Shopping Center (the "Bank Block") in Grandview Heights, Ohio in 1928, the first regional shopping center in America that integrated parking into the design. This general plan by Don Monroe Casto Sr. became the prototype of shopping centers for several decades. Other important shopping centers built in the 1920s and early 1930s include Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, the Highland Park Village in Dallas, Texas; River Oaks in Houston, Texas; and the Park and Shop in Washington, D.C..
The suburban shopping center concept evolved further in the United States after World War II. Bellevue Shopping Square (now known as Bellevue Square) opened in 1946 in Bellevue, Washington, a suburb of Seattle. Town & Country Village also opened in 1946 in Sacramento, California. Then came the Broadway-Crenshaw Center (known today as Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza), which was dedicated, in Los Angeles, in 1947. Two more suburban shopping centers were completed in 1949. Town and Country Drive-In Shopping Center (Town and Country Shopping Center), in Whitehall, Ohio was a strip-type complex erected in the environs of Columbus, Ohio. Park Forest, Illinois' Park Forest Plaza (Park Forest Downtown) was built along the lines of a cluster-type complex. It was situated in the southern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
The suburban shopping mall came into being with the opening of Seattle's Northgate Center (presently known as Northgate Mall) in April 1950. This was followed by Lakewood Center (1951), in Lakewood, California; Shoppers' World (1951), in Framingham, Massachusetts; Stonestown Center (now Stonestown Galleria) (1952) in San Francisco, California; and Northland Center (1954), in Southfield, Michigan. Open-air-type malls were also built in Canada and Australia. Don Mills Convenience Centre (now Shops at Don Mills) opened in 1955, in Toronto. Chermside Drive-In Shopping Centre started trading to the public in 1957, in Brisbane, Australia.
The fully enclosed shopping mall did not appear until the mid-1950s. One of the earliest examples was the Valley Fair Shopping Center in Appleton, Wisconsin, which opened in March 1955. Valley Fair featured a number of modern features including a large parking area, anchor stores, and restaurants.Valley Fair Shopping Center The idea of a regionally-sized, fully enclosed shopping complex was pioneered in 1956 by the Austrian-born architect and American immigrant Victor Gruen. ξ1 This new generation of regional-size shopping centers began with the Gruen-designed Southdale Center, which opened in the Twin Cities suburb of Edina, Minnesota, United States in October 1956. For pioneering the soon-to-be enormously popular mall concept in this form, Gruen has been called the "most influential architect of the twentieth century" by Malcolm Gladwell.
The first retail complex to be promoted as a "mall" was Paramus, New Jersey's Bergen Mall. The center, which opened with an open-air format in 1957, was enclosed in 1973. Aside from Southdale Center, significant early enclosed shopping malls were Harundale Mall (1958), in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Big Town Mall (1959), in Mesquite, Texas, Chris-Town Mall (1961), in Phoenix, Arizona, and Randhurst Center (1962), in Mount Prospect, Illinois.
The first fully enclosed shopping mall in Canada was Wellington Square. It was designed for Eaton's by John Graham, Jr. as an enclosed mall with a department store anchor and subterranean parking which opened in downtown London, Ontario, on August 11, 1960. After several renovations, it remains open today as Citi Plaza.
Other early malls moved retailing away from the dense, commercial downtowns into the largely residential suburbs. This formula (enclosed space with stores attached, away from downtown, and accessible only by automobile) became a popular way to build retail across the world. Gruen himself came to abhor this effect of his new design; he decried the creation of enormous "land wasting seas of parking" and the spread of suburban sprawl. ξ1
In the United Kingdom, Chrisp Street Market was the first pedestrian shopping area built with a road at the shop fronts. The first mall-type shopping precinct in Great Britain was built in the downtown area of Birmingham. Known as Bull Ring Centre (now Bull Ring Birmingham), it was officially dedicated in May 1964. A notable example is the Halton Lea Shopping Centre (originally known as Shopping City) in Runcorn, which opened in 1972 and was conceived as the center point for the new town's development. Another early example is the Brent Cross Centre, Britain's first out-of-town shopping mall and located on the northern outskirts of London, which was opened in March 1976.
In the United States, developers such as A. Alfred Taubman of Taubman Centers extended the concept further in 1980, with terrazzo tiles at the Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey, indoor fountains, and two levels allowing a shopper to make a circuit of all the stores. Taubman believed carpeting increased friction, slowing down customers, so it was removed. Fading daylight through glass panels was supplemented by gradually increased electric lighting, making it seem like the afternoon was lasting longer, which encouraged shoppers to linger.
Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii is currently the largest open-air mall in the world and was one of the largest malls in the United States when it opened for business in August 1959. It is currently the sixteenth largest in the country. The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, the oldest enclosed mall in New Jersey, opened in Paramus on November 14, 1957, with Dave Garroway, host of The Today Show, serving as master of ceremonies. The mall, located just outside New York City, was planned in 1955 by Allied Stores to have 100 stores and 8,600 parking spaces in a mall that would include a Stern's store and two other department stores as part of the design. Allied's chairman B. Earl Puckett confidently announced The Outlets at Bergen Town Center as the largest of ten proposed centers, stating that there were 25 cities that could support such centers and that no more than 50 malls of this type would ever be built nationwide.
In the 1970s, the Ontario government created the Ontario Downtown Renewal Programme, which helped finance the building of several downtown malls across Ontario such as Eaton Centre. The program was created to reverse the tide of small business leaving downtowns for larger sites surrounding the city. In the first quarter of 2012 shopping mall private investment hit an all-time low under 0.1 percent.
One of the world's largest shopping complexes in one location is the two-mall agglomeration of the Plaza at King of Prussia and the Court at King of Prussia in the Philadelphia suburb of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, United States. The King of Prussia mall has the most shopping per square foot in the US.
The most visited shopping mall in the world and largest mall in the United States is the Mall of America, located near the Twin Cities in Bloomington, Minnesota. However, several Asian malls are advertised as having more visitors, including Mal Taman Anggrek, Kelapa Gading Mall and Pluit Village, all in Jakarta, Indonesia; Berjaya Times Square in Malaysia; SM City North EDSA, SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall, all in Metro Manila, Philippines. The largest mall in South Asia is Bashundhara City in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
In recent years, the number of dead malls increased significantly in the early twenty first century because the economic health of malls across the United States has been in decline, with high vacancy rates in these malls. From 2006 to 2010, the percentage of malls that are considered to be "dying" by real estate experts (have a vacancy rate of at least 40%), unhealthy (20–40%), or in trouble (10–20%) all increased greatly, and these high vacancy rates only partially decreased from 2010 to 2014. In 2014, nearly 3% of all malls in the United States were considered to be "dying" (40% or higher vacancy rates) and nearly one-fifth of all malls had vacancy rates considered "troubling" (10% or higher). Some real estate experts say the "fundamental problem" is a glut of malls in many parts of the country creating a market that is "extremely over-retailed".
In Russia, on the other hand, a large number of new malls had been built near major cities, notably the MEGA malls such as Mega Belaya Dacha mall near Moscow. In large part they were financed by international investors and were popular with shoppers from the emerging middle class.
In the United States, owners are making drastic moves to convert struggling malls. This includes converting malls into apartments, offices and industrial space. Other owners have taken the approach to turning large chunks of malls into parks and playgrounds. In Austin, Texas, Highland Mall is in the midst of a conversion to a community college. Much of the 600,000 square foot mall will be the home of Austin Community College.
A vertical mall may also be built where the geography prevents building outward or there are other restrictions on construction, such as historical buildings or significant archeology. The Darwin Shopping Centre and associated malls in Shrewsbury, UK, are built on the side of a steep hill, around the former outer walls of the nearby Shrewsbury Castle; consequently the shopping center is split over seven floors vertically – two locations horizontally – connected by elevators, escalators and bridge walkways. Some establishments incorporate such designs into their layout, such as Shrewsbury's McDonalds, split into four stories with multiple mezzanines which feature medieval castle vaults – complete with – in the basement dining rooms.
Shopping center management and advisory firms are bringing about professional management practices to the largely fragmented shopping center development industry in India. Historically, land ownership in India, has been fragmented and as a byproduct shopping center development, which rendered the single mall developers vulnerable to dubious advice and practices, since standard benchmarks, knowledge resources, and skilled people were scarce. This is changing as new firms promoted by former shopping center managers are stepping in to bridge the gap between ownership and professional management.
Beyond Squarefeet from India is another mall management company, which is foraying into various other countries such as India, Iran, Nepal, Nigeria, Qatar, etc. Mall management is slowly becoming a trend and is much sought after services in Asia and other markets.
In response, a few jurisdictions, notably California, have expanded the right of freedom of speech to ensure that speakers will be able to reach consumers who prefer to shop, eat, and socialize within the boundaries of privately owned malls. See Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins.