Inside the Greendale Mall in Worcester 2016. (Noah R. Bombard /MassLive file photo)
By Kristin LaFratta | MassLive
Massachusetts malls are both struggling and succeeding: a walk through some of the state’s worst malls reveals vacant storefronts, outdated designs and and few customers at all.
Way over on the other end of the spectrum, malls that have been maintained throughout the decades and have adapted still serve as destination points and day-trips for residents across the state.
“It used to be, there was a Main Street,” says Shuba Srinivasan, a Professor of Management and Marketing at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business.
Around that Main Street in any given American town, there would be all of the shops and grocery vendors a person might need.
In the latter half of the 20th century, that all changed with the advent of the mall: a mega-building that could connect the most popular department stores with specialty stores, chains and more. Malls and shopping plazas popped up rapidly throughout the decades.
But as property developers raced to create top malls across the country, a different kind of developer was working to bring the digital world online. Soon, e-commerce invented a new retail landscape, one that significantly hurt malls that could not adapt swiftly enough.
Despite this new era, there is still a need for physical spaces where customers can go, as evidenced by malls that are growing, expanding and seeing profits.
“People assume that consumers are just going to buy online, but most retailers are indeed finding they need to have brick-and-mortar stores in addition to online channels,” Srinivasan said.
But for the retail centers that are hurting, enormous investments are required to transform them into a place people want to visit in the near-2020 era.
Read more: Is the mall dead? In Massachusetts, it’s survival of the fittest as shopping centers evolve
And so we give you the official, very non-scientific ranking of the worst to best shopping malls and plazas in Massachusetts. These rankings were determined through a combination of online reviews from Yelp, Facebook and Google, combined with input from MassLive staff from across the state: