Moving to Shanghai, I knew there was much to be surprised by. However, what surprised me the most was the number of malls. Back at the old dorms, there were two malls, one directly next to our dormitory and one across the street, not to mention another next to the old campus. Our new dormitory and campus are now in a newer, developing area. Even still, the new campus shares a street with two malls. The issue, admittedly, is of some personal bias. Malls can be a significant waste of space, better suited for more interactive structures. Furthermore, given the prolific amount of malls in China, the sheer amount seems like overkill. 

My issue with malls is not born solely out of personal preference. According to CBS, China houses over 4,600 malls, four times more than the US. The size of these shopping centers is massive by nature, spanning multiple blocks. At first glance, the issue seems nominal. While I may consider them a nuisance, they act as central hubs for retail, allow businesses to thrive, and provide a convenient experience for consumers. However, these benefits are becoming more and more outdated. With major retailers and even smaller companies taking advantage of online shopping, malls are becoming increasingly unnecessary. As a result, China is experiencing a new problem known as “ghost mall syndrome.” Born out of an online marketplace that continues to grow exponentially, malls have become archaic. As a result, malls now take up significant space and require large amounts of upkeep, not only becoming a problem for China but also harmful to Chinese citizens.

However, there are ways in which China has tried to alleviate these growing problems, utilizing these existing structures to add more engaging activities for citizens, like restaurants and attractions. These renovations have done much to change how citizens interact with shopping centers, breathing new life into the use of these buildings. Regardless, I still find some issues with malls. While these are welcome changes, I would like to know if these areas could be utilized more effectively than just repurposing existing structures. While these ideas lean towards more idealistic views, could malls be transformed in ways that have more extensive benefits to the community? Even more drastic changes, like converting malls into parks, are possible long-term solutions to the invasive nature of malls.

Malls advocate for a very different type of interaction; one centered around consumption and gratification. I think there’s no problem with this, as people deserve spaces where they can find things that interest them and satisfy their interests. However, China must consider the high expectations malls call for and whether the pros are worth the cons. To me, the pros don’t necessarily outweigh the cons.