A dead mall is a shopping mall with a high vacancy rate or a low consumer traffic level, or that is dated or deteriorating in some manner. Many malls in the US are considered "dead" when they have no surviving anchor store (often a large department store) or successor that could serve as an entry into or attraction to the mall. Without the access, the small stores inside are difficult to reach. Without the pedestrian traffic that a department store generates, sales volumes plummet for the stores, and rental revenues from those stores can no longer sustain the costly maintenance of the malls. The now-vacant anchor store position may be referred to as a ghostbox and the outline of where signage once indicated the branding or trademark of the former anchor as label scar.
Changes in the retail climate 
In many instances, a mall begins dying when its surrounding neighborhood undergoes a socio-economic decline or a newer, larger mall opens nearby. Structural changes in the department store industry have also made survival of these malls difficult: A few large national chains have replaced many local and regional chains, and some national chains (such as Montgomery Ward and Woolworth's) are defunct. Hence, in some areas there are insufficient traditional department stores to fill all the existing anchor spaces. Newer "big box" chains (such as Walmart, Target and Best Buy) normally prefer free-standing buildings rather than mall-anchor spaces.
Attitudes about malls are also changing. With changing priorities, people have less time to spend driving to and strolling through malls, and during the Great Recession, specialty stores offer what many shoppers see as useless luxuries they can no longer afford. In this respect, big box stores and conventional strip malls have a time-saving advantage. The rise in big box stores since the 1980s left malls reliant on an older business model that could not change with the times. 21st-century retailing trends favor open air lifestyle centers, which resemble elements of power centers, big box stores, and strip malls over indoor malls. The massive change led Newsweek to declare the indoor mall format obsolete in 2008.
Some malls have maintained profitability, particularly in areas with frequent bad weather or large populations of senior citizens who can partake in mall walking. Combined with lower rents, these factors have led to companies like Simon Malls enjoying high profits and occupancy averages of 92%. Some retailers have also begun to re-evaluate the mall environment, a positive sign for the industry.
Dead malls are occasionally redeveloped. Leasing or management companies may change the architecture, layout, decor, or other component of a shopping center to attract more renters and draw more profits. Sometimes redevelopment can involve a switch from retail usage to office or educational use for a building, such as is the case with Park Central Mall in Phoenix, the Eastmont Town Center in Oakland, California. and the Coral Springs Mall in Florida.
As a last resort, the structure is demolished and the property redeveloped for other uses, known as building on a greyfield site. In places such as Vermont with a strict permitting process, and in major urban areas where open fields are long gone, this can be much easier and cheaper than building on a greenfield site. A good example of this type of redevelopment is Prestonwood Town Center in Dallas.
See also 
- "Greyfields and Ghostboxes Evolving Real Estate Challenges". Uwex.edu. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- Wal Street Journal
- Newman, Rick (2009-06-26). "How To Tell When a Mall Is In Trouble". News.yahoo.com. Retrieved 2009-07-16.
- New York Times
- "The vanishing shopping mall". The Week. 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- Dokoupil, Tony (2008-11-12). "Is the American Shopping Mall Dead?". Newsweek. Retrieved 2009-10-24.
- http://walking.about.com/od/beginners/a/mallwalking.htm. Missing or empty
- http://www.ibj.com/next-up-general-growth/PARAMS/article/15096. Missing or empty
- http://www.muscatinejournal.com/news/local/article_9f256182-6a7f-11df-989a-001cc4c03286.html. Missing or empty
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