Sunday, December 4, 2011

America’s Most-Visited Shopping Malls

For most Americans, it’s just not the holidays without a mall visit. Chicago-area Woodfield prepped weeks before the Black Friday shopping blitz, debuting an Ice Palace with a light show and Santa photo-ops.

After all, its parking lots are crowded whatever the season. Woodfield gets 27 million annual visitors — more than any other Illinois attraction (only 8.69 million make it to Chicago’s Navy Pier). A heady mix of shopping, eating, and entertainment options has turned malls across the U.S. into similar tourism magnets and coined the phrase “destination malls.”

The 10 most-visited shopping malls range from pioneering Mall of America in Minnesota—ranked No. 1 with a staggering 40 million annual visitors—to upscale NorthPark Center, which displays rotating works by artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and hosts events during the Dallas International Film Festival.

“Shopping centers and malls, especially large enclosed malls, are increasingly attempting to become something more than just a place for the distribution of goods,” says Jesse Tron of the International Council of Shopping Centers, a nonprofit that monitors the global mall industry.

Sure, nearly every large mall has a movie complex and food court these days. But what was cutting edge 20 years ago is now old hat, as malls up the ante on their extras. According to Tama Shor, publisher of the Directory of Major Malls, which compiles data on more than 7,200 malls and shopping centers in the U.S. and Canada, ice rinks within malls used to be a big deal, but no longer.

“Malls have gotten much more creative,” says Shor. “They’ve taken what used to be traditional retail space and turned it into gymnastics studios, playhouses, trampoline places, you name it. All of these things generate revenues, and the hope is that many of the people who come for other reasons will make purchases in the more traditional retail stores.”

And developers are thinking even bigger. The 3-million-square-foot American Dream Meadowlands mall is under construction in northern New Jersey with ambitious plans for an indoor ski/snowboard slope, a skydive simulator, and full-scale amusement and water parks.

Chances are these 10 most-visited shopping malls will gear up for the competition.

Methodology: We obtained the latest Directory of Major Malls list of the top 50 largest enclosed malls in the United States and set out to determine annual visitor numbers.

Some mall owners were glad to share their latest data; others either refused or said they don’t keep track of how many people come through their doors. In cases where we couldn’t get the data directly from the malls, we used alternative sources including chambers of commerce, newspapers, advertising agencies, and tourism websites. Given that people don’t purchase tickets to a mall, all of the annual visitation numbers are estimates no matter what the source.

We focused on traditional enclosed malls, avoiding outlet malls as well as unconventional designs like the open-air Ala Moana Center in Honolulu, which attracts roughly 42 million visitors per year, and Chesterfield Commons near St. Louis, considered the most popular strip mall, with about 10 million annual visitors.

Tysons Corner Center, McLean, VA (Courtesy of Tysons Corner Center)

10) Tysons Corner Center, McLean, VA

Annual Visitors:
22.1 million

Year Opened: 1968

Size: 2.2 million square feet

It’s just outside the Beltway, but Tysons Corner is still the place where Washington insiders cruise for Brooks Brothers, Build-A-Bear, and bargains. In addition to more than 300 shops and restaurants, the northern Virginia mall has a large movie complex and a number of community programs, from business classes for high school students to the Tysons Trekkers walking club that encourages local residents to keep fit.

Gurnee Mills (Courtesy of Gunree Mills)

9) Gurnee Mills, Gurnee, IL

Annual Visitors: 23 million

Year Opened: 1991

Size: 1.8 million square feet

Another of Chicagoland’s mega-malls, Gurnee Mills was also a pioneer of mixing retail and entertainment. Ice-skating, laser tag, miniature golf, and a 20-theater Cineplex count among its many nonshopping attractions. There’s even an indoor zoo called Serpent Safari, where various snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles can be viewed and sometimes handled. Get ready to have a photo snapped with a Burmese python draped around your neck.

Palisades Center (Courtesy of Railyn Mest)

8) Palisades Center, West Nyack, NY

Annual Visitors: 24 million

Year Opened: 1998

Size: 2.2 million square feet

One of the nation’s newer mega-malls, Palisades sprawls on the west side of the Hudson River about an hour’s drive north of Manhattan. Even those who loathe shopping can find something to draw them here, whether it’s the large cinema complex, the bowling alley, the carousel, the ice rink, or the 40-plus food and beverage options. Its most unusual claim to fame is historic Mount Moor Cemetery, founded in 1849 as a burial place for local African Americans and now surrounded by a parking lot on the mall’s south side.

Aventura Mall (Courtesy of Aventura Mall)

7) Aventura Mall, Aventura, FL

Annual Visitors: 24 million

Year Opened: 1983

Size: 2 million square feet

The greater Miami area’s largest mall is an integral part of a super-posh coastal enclave that includes the Turnberry Isle resort and championship golf course, Gulfstream Park thoroughbred horse track, and the upscale Golden Beach/Golden Isles residential area. Cashing in on south Florida’s tourism bounty, the mall organizes shopping experiences for visiting conventions and hosts special events like the Chocolate Festival, Great American Bake Sale, Miami’s Most Photogenic Baby contest, and a regular farmers’ market.

Houston Galleria (Courtesty of Houston Galleria)

6) Houston Galleria, Houston, TX

Annual Visitors: 24 million

Year Opened: 1970

Size: 2.2 million square feet

The largest mall in the Lone Star State is one of Houston’s leading tourist attractions. An oasis of air-conditioning during the sweltering summers, the mall also lures with its upscale tennis and athletic club, an indoor ice rink, the Little Galleria interactive play area for kids, and 50 restaurants. The Galleria’s vaulted glass ceilings were inspired by Italian Renaissance arcades.

King of Prussia Mall (Courtesy of King of Prussia Mall)

5) King of Prussia Mall, King of Prussia, PA

Annual Visitors: 25 million

Year Opened: 1963

Size: 2.6 million square feet

The monarch of Pennsylvania malls is located in upscale Chester County, not far from Valley Forge on the western fringe of Philadelphia. It’s one of the oldest mega-malls, and the original core has evolved into two distinct indoor malls (the Plaza and the Court) and more than half a dozen large peripheral stores. With around a quarter of the patrons hailing from outside the Philly metro area, several nearby hotels (like the Radisson Valley Forge) offer “sleep and shop” packages that include KOP gift cards, discounts, and complimentary transportation.

Sawgrass Mills (Courtesy of Sawgrass Mills)

4) Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise, FL

Annual Visitors: 26 million

Year Opened: 1990

Size: 1.8 million square feet

Like Del Amo on the left coast, this Florida landmark is one of the anchor properties of the Simon Property Group, the nation’s largest mall owner. Sawgrass takes its name from the nearby Everglades, located just across the expressway from the mall on the western outskirts of Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the core enclosed area, Sawgrass includes an outdoor entertainment area called the Oasis and an outlet component dubbed the Colonnade.

Woodfield Mall (Courtesy of Woodfield Mall)

3) Woodfield Mall, Schaumburg, IL

Annual Visitors: 27 million

Year Opened: 1971

Size: 2.2 million square feet

Located just outside of Chicago, Woodfield is the number one tourist destination in the State of Illinois. Its name pays posthumous tribute to two of the greatest retailers of all time: General Robert E. Wood of Sears fame and the legendary Marshall Field. Many of the specialty stores are the largest of their kind in the U.S., and Woodfield is often used to test new store design and marketing concepts. Its trademark stainless-steel sculptures were fashioned by artist Robert Engman.

Del Amo Fashion Center (Courtesy of Del Amo Fashion Center)

2) Del Amo Fashion Center, Torrance, CA

Annual Visitors: 27.6 million

Year Opened: 1975

Size: 2.2 million square feet

The prototypical L.A. mall, Del Amo has appeared in movies like Valley Girl, Bad Santa, and Beverly Hills 90210. It attracts a mixed bag of well-heeled Palos Verdes residents, surfer dudes from nearby Redondo Beach, and inner-city patrons from Compton and Long Beach. Del Amo’s most popular entertainment attractions are an 18-theater Cineplex and a Lucky Strike Lanes bowling alley.

Mall of America (Courtesy of iStockphoto)

1) Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

Annual Visitors: 40 million

Year Opened: 1992

Size: 4.2 million square feet

The history of modern mall development is divided into two distinct eras: everything that came before Mall of America and everything after. With more than 400 shops, MOA changed the playing field radically, not just in terms of size (for years it was the world’s largest mall) but also that heady blend of retail, entertainment, and “Wow!” factor that subsequent malls have tried to achieve. MOA continues to lead them all with 40 million visitors — nearly as many as Italy’s foreign tourist arrivals last year.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

My Blog List

Contact US