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Malls don’t deserve our time or our dime

Weekend walks and shopping sprees in malls should be a thing of the past in this post-pandemic age of entertainment.

Opinion by Benjamin Royer, Staff Writer

The Americana at Brand is an outdoor shopping and residential center located in Glendale, Calif. Despite the economic toll of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Americana still sees consistent patronage throughout its array of stores and restaurants, the latter of which were very quick to adapt to COVID-19 safety protocols imposed by the state of California. Photo taken on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. (Photo by Jeremy Ruiz / The Valley Star)

Walk around Westfield Fashion Square or Westfield Topanga Mall and you’ll notice a common theme; blank walls and empty storefronts with no customers in sight.

Malls in the Valley went through an on-and-off season throughout the pandemic. Shopping centers were required to follow guidelines, limiting capacity depending on the tier the county was placed in. Los Angeles County had set malls at 25 percent capacity during the pandemic. Capacity could be a large issue for malls heading into the post-pandemic world that Angelenos are jumping into. Consumers should not buy into their “economy boosting” tactics and instead focus their attention on other entertainment avenues.

Westfield filed a lawsuit against LA County in September 2020 as a result of the extended pandemic forced closures.

"The county's arbitrary closure of indoor malls and their interior retailers has caused, and will continue to cause, substantial harms to plaintiffs, their employees, the community, and the retailers, operators, and employees of indoor malls and shopping centers throughout the county," the suit stated according to an article in MSN. "These harms include monetary losses due to reduced income, sales, and rent payments, and non-monetary and existential losses in the form of the loss of customer goodwill."

The future of malls seems bleak. Generation Z has taken an interest in outside-the-box options for their hobbies. Trips to malls can feel more like a hassle than a fun day out. The claustrophobic sense that a packed mall can bring should be left in the past. Comfortability, as students move back to a normal life, does not mean rushing into packed and pressured malls.

Malls have become secondary to life in the world Los Angeles is currently living. Outdoor developments take the forefront in focus. Instead of ghost malls and their non-existent customers, the outside provides different opportunities.

Instead of looking at Westfields’ indoor properties in the Valley, there are other outdoor shopping centers that give a similar experience. Glendale’s Americana at Brand and The Grove in West LA provide shopping options without the hassle and discomfort of indoor malls.

Farmer’s markets and hiking trails offer other types of entertainment including people watching. Whether at the old town Calabasas farmers’ market or at the Crisp Canyon Road Trail Head for hiking opportunities, different options await.

As Westfield looks to expand in these upcoming years, Los Angeles should look to support the outdoor developments that exist around Angelenos already.

Between the 405 and the 101 leaves a multitude of options for weekend fun that keep Angelenos outside and involved. The Valley has the best to offer instead of the gloom of what malls have come to be.

Students of Valley College and residents of the San Fernando Valley should head into this post-quarantine madness with a fresh sense of what is the better option in Los Angeles.


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