July 03, 2004

As any conglomerate with a discrete and distinct identity, stores react as individual persons, with motivations and behaviours somewhat predictable through psychological models. Indoor malls are expressions of collectivist thought: anchor stores offered a significantly lower proportionate lease rate to draw traffic into the mall, varying degrees of shared space, shared shelter, shared utilities, shared security.

Where the societal focus moves strongly toward individualism, malls cannot but slowly die, to be replaced by individual street stores (where pedestrian foot traffic is primary) or by large box stores (where the automobile rules). The optimal balance becomes not only one of maximum individual benefit, but also one of active and sometimes aggressive competition: why should any given store sacrifice anything toward a common good?

And so the major stores of the mall, which have the most individually to gain, pull out first, and in automotive-rich environments will refocus their efforts on building free-standing stores in which they can have complete control (barring business legislation and regulation ... which will be relatively light, in an individual-oriented society) over the circumstances of their operation. Regardless of the degree of "finality" of this new structure, their departure undermines the remaining, smaller stores, which themselves must now face a rapid survival choice to risk the fully independent route, but without the risk-cushioning resources of their much larger counterparts. The leap into independence, foreseen, planned, and budgeted for by the anchor stores, must now be taken by the smaller stores at a time not of their choosing, and thus for which budgetary preparation must be less than ideal.

In the econo-sphere (as in the gaiasphere), the alternative, the price paid for failure to adapt, is extinction.

Smile of the day:

Did Jesus condone bribery? In his parable about settling with your opponent before going to court, he mentions that if you fail to do so you will end up in prison. "You will not get out," he concludes, "until you have paid the last copper." (Luke 12:59, RSV).

Of course this could just be a corrupt text.

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