Shopping mall

A shopping mall is a North American term for a large indoor shopping center, usually anchored by department stores. The term "mall" originally meant a pedestrian promenade with shops along it, but in the late 1960s, it began to be used as a generic term for the large enclosed shopping centers that were becoming commonplace at the time. In the U.K., such complexes are considered shopping centers, though "shopping center" covers many more sizes and types of centers than the North American "mall". Other countries may follow U.S. usage and others follow U.K. usage.
Malls are currently in severe decline or have closed. Successful exceptions have added entertainment and experiential features, added big-box stores as anchors, or converted to other specialized shopping center formats: power centers, lifestyle centers, factory outlet centers, and festival marketplaces.


The International Council of Shopping Centers classifies two types of shopping centers as malls: regional malls and superregional malls.

Regional mall

A regional mall is as per the International Council of Shopping Centers, in the United States, a shopping mall with to gross leasable area with at least two anchor stores.

Superregional mall

A superregional mall is, per the International Council of Shopping Centers, in the US a shopping mall with over of gross leasable area, three or more anchors, mass merchant, more variety, fashion apparel, and serves as the dominant shopping venue for the region in which it is located.

Not malls

Not classified as malls are smaller formats such as strip malls and neighborhood shopping centers, and specialized format such as power centers, festival marketplaces, and outlet centers.
On the other hand, in some countries, many shopping centres less than half or a quarter of the size of the U.S. minimum to be considered a mall,, have "mall" in their names – see List of shopping centres in Namibia or List of shopping centres in Zambia for examples.
The world's largest malls with over of gross leasable area are in China, Thailand, The Philippines, more than half again as large as previous contenders such as the Dubai Mall.

List of types of shopping centers (including malls)

The International Council of Shopping Centers classifies Asia-Pacific, European, U.S., and Canadian shopping centers into the following types:
Abbreviations: SC=shopping center/centre, GLA = Gross Leasable Area, NLA = Net Leasable Area, AP=Asia-Pacific, EU=Europe, Can=Canada, US=United States of America''
*does not apply to Europe


Forerunners to the American mall

Shopping centers in general, may have their origins in public markets and, in the Middle East, covered bazaars. In 1798 the first covered shopping passage was built in Paris, the Passage du Caire. The Arcade in Providence, Rhode Island was the first shopping arcade in the United States in 1828.
in the 1920s

Ever larger open-air centers

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 downtowns. Early shopping centers designed for the automobile include Market Square, Lake Forest, Illinois, and Country Club Plaza, Kansas City, Missouri.
The suburban shopping center concept evolved further in the United States after World War II with larger open-air shopping centers anchored by major department stores, such as the Broadway-Crenshaw Center in Los Angeles built in 1947, anchored by a five-story Broadway and a May Company California.

Downtown pedestrian malls and use of term "mall"

In the late 1950s and into the 1960s, the term "shopping mall" was first used, but in the original sense of the word "mall", that is, a pedestrian promenade. Early downtown pedestrianized malls included the Kalamazoo Mall, "Shoppers' See-Way" in Toledo, Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach, Santa Monica Mall. Although Bergen Mall led other suburban shopping centers in using "mall" in their names, these types of properties were still referred to as "shopping centers" until the late 1960s, when the term "shopping mall" started to be used generically for large suburban shopping centers.

Enclosed "malls" in the U.S.

The enclosed shopping center, which would eventually be known as the 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 central heating and cooling, a large outdoor parking area, semi-detached anchor stores, and restaurants. Later that year the world's first fully enclosed shopping mall was opened in Luleå, in northern Sweden and was named Shopping; the region now claims the highest shopping center density in Europe.
The idea of a regionally-sized, fully enclosed shopping complex was pioneered in 1956 by the Austrian-born architect and American immigrant Victor Gruen. 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, in Glen Burnie, Maryland, Big Town Mall, in Mesquite, Texas, Chris-Town Mall, in Phoenix, Arizona, and Randhurst Center, in Mount Prospect, Illinois.
Other early malls moved retailing away from the dense, commercial downtowns into the largely residential suburbs. This formula 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.
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.

The decline of the shopping mall

Dead malls

In the United States, in the mid-1990s, malls were still being constructed at a rate of 140 a year. But in 2001, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that underperforming and vacant malls, known as "greyfield" and "dead mall" estates, were an emerging problem. In 2007, a year before the Great Recession, no new malls were built in America, for the first time in 50 years. City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City, which opened in March 2012, was the first to be built since the recession.
In recent years, the number of dead malls increased significantly in the early 21st century because the economic health of malls across the United States has been in decline, as identified by high vacancy rates. From 2006 to 2010, the percentage of malls that are considered to be "dying" by real estate experts, unhealthy, or in trouble 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" and nearly one-fifth of all malls had vacancy rates considered "troubling". 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".

New malls not being built

United States

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, the 600,000 square foot Highland Mall will be a campus for Austin Community College.


In parts of Canada, it is now rare for new shopping malls to be built. The Vaughan Mills Shopping Centre, opened in 2004, Crossiron Mills, opened in 2009, and Tsawwassen Mills Mall in 2016, are the only malls built in Canada since 1992. Outdoor outlet malls or big box shopping areas known as power centers are now favored, although the traditional enclosed shopping mall is still in demand by those seeking weather-protected, all-under-one-roof shopping. In addition, the enclosed interconnections between downtown multi story shopping malls continue to grow in the Underground city of Montreal, the PATH system of Toronto and the Plus15 system of Calgary.

Online shopping influence

Faced with the exploding popularity of buying online, shopping malls are emptying and are seeking new solutions to generate traffic. In the US, for example, roughly 200 out of 1,300 malls across the country are going out of business. To combat this trend, developers are trying to turn malls into leisure centers that include attractions such as parks, movie theaters, gyms, and even fishing lakes. Others, such as the European commercial real-estate giant Unibail-Rodamco, are modernizing their approach by promoting brand interaction and enhanced architectural appeal. A recent example that integrates both approaches is the So Ouest mall outside of Paris that was designed to resemble elegant, Louis XV-style apartments and includes of green space. The Australian mall company Westfield launched an online mall with 150 stores, 3,000 brands and over 1 million products. Online shopping has increased its share of total retail sales since 2008. In Q3 2008, it comprised 3.6% of retail purchases and this increased to 7.4% by Q3 2015.

Impact of COVID-19 and re-opening steps

impacted the shopping center industry significantly. Most malls were forced closed by government regulations to prevent the spread of the virus in crowded indoor spaces. This forced the malls to reinvent the model as they began to reopen. These changes included temperature checks at entrances, welcome kits with masks and sanitizers, screening of the staff members, more frequent sanitization, and occupancy controls. Some of the changes were imposed by public health, such as occupancy restriction of 30% in the UAE, while other changes were done voluntarily by mall operators.

Shape and size of enclosed malls

World's largest malls

The size of the largest shopping centers and malls at any given time continued to increase throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries. The Outlets at Bergen Town Center, originally called the Bergen Mall, 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 in a mall with three department store anchors. At approximately, the Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, Hawaii was one of the largest malls in the United States when it opened for business in August 1959.
The largest enclosed shopping mall from 1986 to 2004 was the West Edmonton Mall in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Currently, the largest mall in the world is the New South China Mall in Dongguan, China with a gross floor area of. The world's second-largest shopping mall is the Golden Resources Mall in Beijing, China with a gross floor area of. SM Megamall in the Philippines, is the world's third-largest at of gross floor area. The fourth largest shopping mall in the world is SM City North EDSA in Quezon City, Philippines with a gross floor area of and the fifth largest shopping mall is 1 Utama in Malaysia at of gross floor area.
The most visited shopping mall in the world and third-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 Lucky One Mall in Karachi, Pakistan.
The Philippines has the most number of shopping malls in the top 100 largest shopping malls in the world with 22.

Vertical malls

High land prices in populous cities have led to the concept of the "vertical mall," in which space allocated to retail is configured over a number of stories accessible by elevators and/or escalators linking the different levels of the mall. The challenge of this type of mall is to overcome the natural tendency of shoppers to move horizontally and encourage shoppers to move upwards and downwards. The concept of a vertical mall was originally conceived in the late 1960s by the Mafco Company, former shopping center development division of Marshall Field & Co. The Water Tower Place skyscraper, Chicago, Illinois, was built in 1975 by Urban Retail Properties. It contains a hotel, luxury condominiums, and office space and sits atop a block-long base containing an eight-level atrium-style retail mall that fronts on the Magnificent Mile.
Vertical malls are common in densely populated conurbations such as Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Bangkok. Times Square in Hong Kong is a principal example.
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 town walls; 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 former McDonald's, split into four stories with multiple mezzanines which featured medieval castle vaults – complete with arrowslits – in the basement dining rooms.


Food court

A common feature of shopping malls is a food court: this typically consists of a number of fast food vendors of various types, surrounding a shared seating area.

Department stores

When the shopping mall format was developed by Victor Gruen in the mid-1950s, signing larger department stores was necessary for the financial stability of the projects, and to draw retail traffic that would result in visits to the smaller stores in the mall as well. These larger stores are termed anchor store or draw tenant. In physical configuration, anchor stores are normally located as far from each other as possible to maximize the amount of traffic from one anchor to another.

Regional differences

"Mall" versus "shopping center/centre"

Shopping mall is a term used predominantly in North America and some other countries that follow U.S. usage and others follow U.K. usage.
In North America, Persian Gulf countries, and India, the term shopping mall is usually applied to enclosed retail structures, while shopping center/centre usually refers to open-air retail complexes; both types of facilities usually have large parking lots, face major traffic arterials, and have few pedestrian connections to surrounding neighbourhoods. Outside of North America, "shopping precinct" and "shopping arcade" are also used.
In Canada, "shopping centre" is often used officially, but conversationally, "mall" is mostly used.

Enclosed shopping centres in the U.K. and Ireland

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, both open-air and enclosed centers 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.
The majority of British enclosed shopping centres, the equivalent of a U.S. mall, 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; Trinity Leeds; Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow; and Eldon Square in Newcastle upon Tyne. In addition to the inner city shopping centres, large UK conurbations will also have large out-of-town "regional malls" such as the Metrocentre in Gateshead; Meadowhall Centre, Sheffield serving South Yorkshire; the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester; White Rose Centre in Leeds; the Merry Hill Centre near Dudley; 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 retail parks, 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, 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.


In Russia, on the other hand, as of 2013 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.

Management and legal

Shopping property management firms

A shopping property management firm is a company that specializes in owning and managing shopping malls. Most shopping property management firms own at least 20 malls. Some firms use a similar naming scheme for most of their malls; for example, Mills Corporation puts "Mills" in most of its mall names and SM Prime Holdings of the Philippines puts "SM" in all of its malls, as well as anchor stores such as The SM Store, SM Appliance Center, SM Hypermarket, SM Cinema, and SM Supermarket. In the UK, The Mall Fund changes the name of any center it buys to "The Mall ", using its pink-M logo; when it sells a mall the center reverts to its own name and branding, such as the Ashley Centre in Epsom. Similarly, following its rebranding from Capital Shopping Centres, intu Properties renamed many of its centres to "intu ".
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.
Mall management is slowly becoming a trend and is much sought after services in Asia and other markets.

Legal issues

One controversial aspect of malls has been their effective displacement of traditional main streets or high streets. Some consumers prefer malls, with their parking garages, controlled environments, and private security guards, over CBDs or downtowns, which frequently have limited parking, poor maintenance, outdoor weather, and limited police coverage.
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.

World's largest malls by gross leasable area

This is an incomplete list of the world's largest shopping malls based on their gross leasable area, with a GLA of at least.
MallCountryCityYear openedGross leasable
1Iran MallIranTehran20172,500+Partially open. As of 2018, a net leasable area of has been opened, while the total area including cultural, religious and recreational areas is. When the project is completed, the total area of the complex will be.
2South China MallChinaDongguan20052,350Until at least 2014 most of the stores were empty, and occupancy rates of only 10% occurred.
3SM TianjinChinaTianjin20162,500+
4Golden Resources MallChinaBeijing20041,000+
5CentralPlaza WestGateThailandNonthaburi 20151,000+The gross floor area of the mall includes the floor area of the mall building with various shops which is 500,000 square meters and the floor area of the IKEA store which is 50,278 square meters.
6CentralWorldThailandBangkok1990600Area of the full complex is including two skyscrapers.
8SM City North EDSAPhilippinesQuezon City19851,000+Largest mall in the Philippines.
9Global HarborChinaShanghai20131,000+
10SM MegamallPhilippinesMandaluyong19911,000+Has the most cinema screens in the Philippines.
11SM Seaside City CebuPhilippinesCebu City2015700+Largest shopping mall in the Philippines outside Metro Manila.
12Isfahan City CenterIranIsfahan2012700+Contains the biggest indoor amusement park in the Middle East at .
131 UtamaMalaysiaPetaling Jaya1995700+The largest shopping mall in Malaysia. Phase 1 opened in 1995 while Phase 2 opened in 2004.
14Persian Gulf ComplexIranShirazSep 20112500Second largest shopping mall by number of stores after Iran Mall.
15SM Mall of AsiaPhilippinesPasay20061,000+Fourth largest mall in the Philippines.
16MetroCentre United KingdomGateshead1986370+The largest shopping mall in Europe.
16New Century Global CenterChinaChengdu20132,300When it opened in 2013, it surpassed The Dubai Mall as the largest shopping mall in the world.
16Dream MallTaiwanKaohsiung20072,300
16Siam ParagonThailandBangkok2005270+
16Festival AlabangPhilippinesMuntinlupa19981,300+
17Sunway PyramidMalaysiaPetaling Jaya1997800+Second largest shopping mall in Malaysia behind 1 Utama. Built in three phases in 1997, 2007 and 2016.
18Lotte World MallSouth KoreaSeoul20141,000+Largest shopping mall in South Korea.
19Albrook MallPanamaPanama City2002555Largest shopping mall in the Americas.
20Mal Taman AnggrekIndonesiaJakarta1996528Hosts the world's largest LED display.
21The Avenues MallKuwaitAl Rai2007800+
22Fashion Island ThailandBangkok1995300
22West Edmonton MallCanadaEdmonton, Alberta1981800+Largest shopping mall in North America. The gross leasable area does not include Galaxyland, a large indoor amusement park with an area of.
22The Dubai MallUnited Arab EmiratesDubai20081,200The second largest mall in the world by total land area.
23Lucky One MallPakistanKarachi2017200+Largest mall in Pakistan and South Asia.
24Gandaria CityIndonesiaJakarta2010500
25Limketkai CenterPhilippinesCagayan de Oro1992500+
25Berjaya Times SquareMalaysiaKuala Lumpur20031,000+The largest shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur and 3rd largest shopping mall in Malaysia behind 1 Utama and Sunway Pyramid.
26Future Park Rangsit & ZpellThailandPathum Thani 1995900
27SM City FairviewPhilippinesQuezon City1997600+
28Zhengjia Plaza ChinaGuangzhou2005180+
28Centro MayorColombiaBogota2010 354+
28American Dream MeadowlandsUnited StatesEast Rutherford, New Jersey 2019450Partially open.
29SM City CebuPhilippinesCebu City1993680
30Medan Centre PointIndonesiaMedan20132The biggest shopping mall in North Sumatra. Medan Center Point Complex consists two of the tallest five buildings in North Sumatra.
30Mal Artha GadingIndonesiaJakarta2004430
31The Avenues, BahrainBahrainBahrain Bay2017273,000m2
32Mall of ArabiaSaudi ArabiaJeddah2010187
33King of PrussiaUnited StatesKing of Prussia, Pennsylvania 1963400+Originally built as two buildings, a 2016 renovation made it one continuous building, larger than Mall of America by.
34Mall of AmericaUnited StatesBloomington, Minnesota 1992520The ranking area does not include Nickelodeon Universe, a large indoor amusement park at the center of the mall with an area of
35Tunjungan PlazaIndonesiaSurabaya1986500The biggest mall in East Java
36Emporium MallPakistanLahore2016200+
36Centro SambilVenezuelaCaracas1998500+
36Aventura MallUnited StatesAventura, Florida 1983300+Largest shopping mall in Florida.
36GloriettaPhilippinesMakati1991300+Glorietta is integrated with Greenbelt, both of which are owned by the Ayala Corporation.
36GreenbeltPhilippinesMakati1991300+Greenbelt is integrated with Glorietta, both of which are owned by the Ayala Corporation.
36South Coast PlazaUnited StatesCosta Mesa, California 1967286
36Centro Comercial SantaféColombiaBogotá2006485
37Centro Comercial AricanduvaBrazilSão Paulo1991535
38AEON Lake Town CentreJapanKoshigaya, Saitama 2008706
39Doha Festival CityQatarDoha2017540
40Del Amo Fashion CenterUnited StatesTorrance, California 1961300+
40Robinsons Place ManilaPhilippinesManila1997500+Largest shopping mall in the city of Manila and largest Robinsons mall in the Philippines.
40Millcreek MallUnited StatesMillcreek Township, Pennsylvania 1975142
40Super Brand MallChinaShanghai2005
41SM XiamenChinaXiamen2001
42Yas MallUnited Arab EmiratesAbu Dhabi2014370+
43Mall of the EmiratesUnited Arab EmiratesDubai2005700+
44Chadstone Shopping CentreAustraliaMelbourne1960530Largest shopping centre in Australia.
45AviaparkRussiaMoscow2014Europe's largest shopping mall in total area.
45Dongfang Xin Tiandi ChinaFoshan
45Grand Canyon ParkwayUnited StatesLas Vegas, Nevada200390
45Queensbay MallMalaysiaBayan Lepas, Penang Island2006400The largest shopping mall in Penang.
45Suntec CitySingaporeSingapore1993619Has the largest water fountain in the world.
45Sta. Lucia East Grand MallPhilippinesCainta1991300+
46City Centre BahrainBahrainManama2008200sqkm350+
47MEGA Belaya DachaRussiaKotelniki, Moscow Oblast2007330+
48Sawgrass MillsUnited StatesSunrise, Florida 1990300+
48Destiny USAUnited StatesSyracuse, New York1990300+The largest shopping mall in the state of New York
48Hartono MallIndonesiaSurakarta, Central Java2015300The biggest shopping mall in Central Java
48Gateway Theatre of ShoppingSouth AfricaDurban2001
48Roosevelt FieldUnited StatesGarden City, New York 1956294Second largest shopping mall in the state of New York.
49Robinsons GalleriaPhilippinesQuezon City1990400+
50Plaza Las AmericasPuerto RicoSan Juan, Puerto Rico1968300+The first indoor shopping mall built in Puerto Rico and Latin America.
51Houston GalleriaUnited StatesHouston, Texas1970375Largest mall in Texas
52Ayala Center CebuPhilippinesCebu City1994800+
53Trafford CentreUnited KingdomManchester1998280
54Puerto VeneciaSpainZaragoza2012250+This is the biggest open air lifestyle center in Europe.
55SM SouthmallPhilippinesLas Piñas1995400+
56SM City DasmariñasPhilippinesDasmariñas2004400+ shops & dining
57Ala Moana CenterUnited StatesHonolulu, Hawaii1959310+Largest open-air mall in the world.
57BluewaterUnited KingdomGreenhithe1999330
57Tysons Corner CenterUnited StatesMcLean, Virginia 1968300+
57AEON Bukit Tinggi Shopping CentreMalaysiaKlang2007500+
57Phoenix MarketcityIndiaMumbai2011200,000 m²
700Largest shopping mall in India
57Pittsburgh MillsUnited StatesPittsburgh2005200,000 m²

Dual function shopping malls

Some wholesale market complexes also function as shopping malls in that they contain retail space which operate as stores in normal malls do but also act as producer vendor outlets that can take large orders for export.
MallCountryCityYear openedGross leasable
Yiwu International Trade CityChinaYiwu200275,000+Much of the retail area is divided into small booths, hence the disproportionately greater number of shops than other malls listed.