I love the buzz of the city where people sell their stuff on the local markets or in the local shops. While being a teen, shopping was always a big part of my social life. I would meet my friends and we would spend the whole Saturday at the shopping center or at the mall walking around, talking, and buying stuff. Taking a break on one of the terraces where we would order food and look at the people that would pass by. We would take the train and visit different cities to visit exciting small shops we didn’t have in our own city that sold excited stuff. The smaller the shop the more excited we were.
But from then til now there are a lot of changes in the market, the streets and the malls. In 2011 Norway had the largest density of shopping malls in Europe. Then the total areal of shopping malls were 4.300.000 m2 which is 0,9 m2 mall areal a citizen. It may sound as not that much but it is double the amount of our neighbors in Sweden.
But while we build larger malls (often outside of the city centers) we are emptying the streets. More and more shops move to the malls. Some city centers that would have buzzing streets with lots of people, street artists and playing children, are turning into ghost towns with empty buildings and spaces. It is sad walking through the streets that before were a meeting point for the people that were living there and now are empty, boring and sad.
Time changes. The last decade we have seen that the smaller, cozy shops got pushed out by large chain shops. They are buying in large bulk that gives better prices and cheaper products for the customers. We get floaded by marketing flyers and there is so much sale going on that even that doesn’t draw people to the shops anymore. We are too used to it. The socks that have a 50% discount now.. probably will be on discount again when I actually do need them. So I wait.
Now we have this big competition with the internet and web-shops going on. Shopowners feel pushed aside for the worldwide web and try to adapt and to be innovative but it doesn’t seem to work. The shopping malls are getting less and less crowded. And all are blaming the webshops. So I asked myself: Why don’t I go to the mall anymore? Why do I hate just the idea of spending the day in the city to go shopping? Before I loved it. I wouldn’t have a holiday feeling without being in the mall for a whole day looking around for interesting stuff and buy new things. But not anymore.
Then I realized, every single mall is the same. If I am at the West-Coast of Norway, in the East or down South. The same shops from the same chains with the same items. The t-shirt I buy here they have same in every shopping mall across the country. Even with interior, toys, jewelry, clothes, flowers.. you name it. Every shop is connected to a big chain and selling the same items.
Where there are people you have a trade. When people aren’t in the malls or the shops anymore there won’t be a trade. And more and more shops are closing their doors. So to me, it seems like the chase for cheap items and quantity over quality has pushed out those small shops that made the streets and malls exciting. If you want the shoppers back in the malls you have to bring the magic back.