The economy is cruising along and unemployment is at all time lows.
Travel is blasting. Hotel occupancy is growing. Aircrafts have flown more travelers every year since 2010, and a year ago U.S. aircrafts set a record, with 823 million travelers. The ascent of revenue at eateries is significantly as well. Since 2005, restuarants and "drinking places" have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending. Americans are spending more in eateries and bars than at grocery stores.
So what's up with retail? In a word - Social. Consumers are driven by the encounters that will make the best web-based social networking content - regardless of whether it's an ordinary sunset pic or a the latest designer burger. Laugh if you want, but "what experience will dependably convey the most well known Instagram post?" does cross your mind. This drives the spending habits of individuals ages 13 - 45. This is a major ordeal for shopping centers. Retail chains have flopped as consumers spend for emotional experiences rather than material goods.
Your trip to the mall isn't that interesting - but your night out with friends or weekend vacation, well that's somethign to post.
Ask yourself (no one has to know your answer) - how many times in the last month did you purchase somethign from a mall? How many times did you particpate in an experience that reulted in a social post? Deliberately or not, my guess is your number for the latter is higher than the former.
Most people complain there are too many strip malls anyway, maybe they will be replaced with virtual experience centers - want to post some cool stuff? Drive down to the local VEC during your lunch and post pics from your Hawaiian surf vacation or chill sesh in Bora Bora.