The breakdown of shopping malls is steadily increasing as department stores are permanently closing; thanks to online shopping where most consumers rather shop online than on foot. The poor economy has taken a heavy hit on local retailers. In some cities, malls have decided to use vacant space as a creative solution for local artists and dance troupes to rehearse in.
In 2016, Northwood’s Mall lost Macy’s as an anchor store. Since then mall traffic has been on a decline. Without heavy pedestrian traffic, many stores struggle with sales. Since Macy’s closed a few other retailers followed suit such as Hallmark, Things Remembered, and Vanity. There were whispers that JC Penney would close as the company closed around 140 stores. The Peoria, store was not included on the list. JC Penney stores within a 70-mile radius are scheduled to close such as Bloomington, Canton, McComb, Peru, and Sterling. Macy’s at Eastland mall in Bloomington has closed. Macy’s announced the closure of over 60 stores in January, and they were expected to close within 8-12 weeks of announcing. The former Macy’s building at the Northwood’s mall has been leased to an amusement and bowling company called “Round 1”. There are currently stores open in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Texas, and Washington. There has been talk about opening stores in North Carolina, New York, Michigan, and Utah. Round 1 will open in Peoria, fall 2017 and will only occupy the first floor which will consist of arcades, bowling alley, and sports bar. There will be age restrictions after 10 pm and I.D. will be required
As of recent, the number of dead malls continues to increase due to the poor economy. Some malls have been able to thrive in areas due to lack of outdoor activities. Senior Citizens enjoy morning walks in the mall. I can fondly reminisce on the days during my teens when the mall was considered a popular hangout area. Nowadays if you take a stroll through the mall on a typical Saturday, you may see a higher volume of traffic, but not much as most shoppers tend to frequent Sears, and JC Penney the two anchor stores. Today’s youth are fond of the sneaker stores Champs, and Finish Line. The PINK store and Victoria’s Secret are highly shopped. Coming soon to Northwood’s is Jimmy Jazz, a store that features top brands such as Adidas, Levi’s, Nike, and the latest trends. With over 170 stores in the U.S., Peoria was selected to introduce the latest in-brand demands. I am optimistic that the new stores will generate revenue and Northwood’s mall will survive the breakdown.