intrude. Despite — perhaps because of— this. mall culture has bloomed.
The best known phenomenon is that ofthe Mall Rats. Direct descendants ofthe Valley Girls they have taken the teachings of consumer culture to heart. In pink nail polish and California highlight hairdos. loafers and Benetton tops the Mall Rats drink diet Cherry Coke and infest the polished escalators of malls as far apart as Horton Plazza San Diego and Glasgow’s St Enoch‘s Centre.
The Shopping Junkies bear carrier bags with the legend ‘Born to Shop‘ or ‘I Shop Therefore I Am‘ as a kind ofjoke. It‘s no joke when theyjoin Shopaholics Anonymous. Shopaholism has reached epidemic proportions in Britain with consumers owing some £24,000 million! The coming ofthe
revolution has happened. Building societies and banks. estate agents and chain stores (the only establishments that can afford the high rents for prime retail sites) have made the main streets of towns and cities virtually identical. But many chainstores have begun to think again and are looking to more cost-effective locations. Many consumers also prefer one stop shopping seven days a week away from the hassles of Saturday morning crowds.
Out-of-town sites offer low rents for the retailer. unlimited parking and shops under glass away from the rain, litter and yobbos. The retail park may be Britain’s answer to the costly mega-mall. A kind of prefabricated high street, a cluster of chain stores and discount outlets gathered around a swimming pool or
tough get shOpping.
mega-malls here won‘t improve the
The thrill of the purchase is seen by psychologists as a way of relieving stress and insecurity. When the going gets tough these days. the ‘
In sweatbands and pristine Nikes. middle-aged and elderly Mall Milers are happy in their weatherproof bubble, free to indulge their passion for combined window shopping. camaraderie and healthy exercise.
The Gateshead MetroCentre, on a 115 acre site near Newcastle, boasts 1.5 million square feet. 300 stores and 300,000 consumers per week. The largest ofits kind in Europe, it has its own themed areas and a Fantasy Land. You don‘t even need a car to get there; every hour the MetroCentre is served by 100 buses.
In Britain the high street
It‘s doubtful if the British will fall wholeheartedly for the mega-mall‘s blend ofjunk culture. But malls do appeal to a deep psychological need to feel protected. secure and free from harm. The mall is a kind of fantastic womb. its mirrors, bright colours and splashing waters are sensual delights. Trees, landscaping, waterfalls and natural light act as a kind of umbilical cord connecting the artificial world of the mall with the real one outside.
The mall is created with one purpose in mind. Interactive pleasure is limited to spending. The glitter takes away the guilt of buying something you don‘t need and can‘t afford. In the surreal landscape of the malls, sometimes spending money is the only way of reassuring yourself that you still exist.
I Breaking the Box Architects' term for getting away from the tin sheds of Retail Warehouses (qv) by using arches. pitched roofs. etc. Biginﬂuencc of 1990s expected to be the impending Euro-Disneyland.
I Conviction Merchandising Selling a definite style to a targeted group. Defined by plainer speakers as ‘shooting fish in a barrel‘.
I Comparison Shopper A researcher. usually employed by a retailer. who investigates the merchandising activities of rival stores. Style pundits are also forecasting that this will be the growth leisure activity of the let century.
I Doughnut Effect An appropriately militaristic term, describing the situation whereby a dilapidated city becomes ringed with new malls. forming a blockade. The inhabitants. once drained of income. live on a
dwindling diet of rats and Tiffany videos (see Paris 1870).
I Geodemographics The classification of neighbourhoods by housing type.
I Homecare Enshrined in British cultural heritage as ‘the carpet showroom‘. ‘the furniture warehouse“. ‘the DIY store‘. etc.
I Mall Milers Indoor joggers. particularly middle-aged or elderly. upholding their ancient territorial jogging rights long after their treasured terrain has been built over. Temperate climate also an attraction.
I Mall Rats Sec Valley Girls.
I Niche Retailing Chains Specialists chainstores. eg The Body Shop. offering
the opportunity to fill your ‘
car boot entirely with No 3 mango-enhanced cleanser. Or. ifyou prefer. organic chocolate muesli.
I Retail Ecology Sounds very Green, but in fact the study of retailers‘ effects on the retail environment and thus good for nothing
but a new series of Open College programmes.
I Retail Parks Groups of several individual retail units sharing common facilities like parking.
I Retail Warehouse Like Comet or MFl. the first of a new breed to come slouching out ofthe primordial soup so its dcscendents could inherit the earth. Unlike the stcgosaurus or allosaurus. still with us.
I Smile Zone Area where sales staff come into contact with customers. Shoppers of a violent disposition should avoid this at all costs. Open College presenters, however, will be fascinated. and may feel moved to create a whole
: new series about it.
I Third Wave The mega-mall age, on the heels of supermarkets and retail warehouses. Human history ceases to be recorded after this point. I Shopping Mauled Nasty side-effect of ODing on mall-shopping.
I Valley Girls See Mall Rats.
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The List 9 - 22 February 1990 77