It’s a tension being played out across the Baltimore/D.C. region: Are customers spending their money more at shopping malls or in downtown retail districts?
There are some indications that downtown retail districts may be on their way to winning the battle for shoppers.
Richard Florida, a national expert on cities and development, wrote recently on an Atlantic Cities blog post that, “After years of neglect, decline, and abandonment, downtowns across the United States are poised to come back—and not just as redoubts for hipsters, artisanal food, indie music, and trendy boutiques, but as major shopping destinations.”
Florida pointed to examples of downtown entertainment districts, such as the D.C. corridor that includes Gallery Place Mall and Verizon Center, that have become “entertainment machines,” while high-end shopping at malls, a trend that started in the 70s, is starting to wane.
“The signs of a great reversal are beginning to be seen today, as high-end shopping starts to shift back downtown,” Florida wrote.
Examples of an apparent shift can be observed here as well.
Ellicott City, Sykesville, Reisterstown, Catonsville, Westminster and Arbutus are among the communities in Maryland that have made efforts in recent years to .
In Ellicott City, business owners have come together to create a variety of "themed" days to draw customers to the historic downtown district. Some served free champagne to women at a recent event. On the of each month, there is a farmers’ market. There are other activities going on downtown, as well.
Meanwhile, indoor shopping malls, such as the soon-to-be demolished , have struggled and will be undergoing major changes in the coming years in favor of “open-air” shopping centers, as opposed to enclosed structures with shops.
also is going through a redevelopment process to add outdoor space, though the mostly enclosed indoor retail center built in 1971 has been successful and attracts 18 million shoppers a year.
Weigh in below or in our poll. Are shopping malls a relic of the 70s and 80s? Do you prefer shopping in an outdoor, Main Street-type retail district?