10 things you (perhaps) don't know about shopping malls

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Spaceship or shopping center? A spaceship covered with 15 thousand aluminum disks. It hosts the Selfridges department store, in Birmingham (Gb): four product exhibition plans, from clothing to beauty to furniture, plus bars and restaurants.

In Italy today there are 1, 178 shopping centers, in which 365, 000 people work. The largest shopping center in the country is Oriocenter, located next to the Orio al Serio airport (BG) and Lombardy is the region with the largest number of shopping centers.

In the centers there is an "anchor": it is the point that attracts consumers the most. It is generally a hypermarket. There may also be other large sales points: the center specializing in household appliances, sportswear, and do-date. Customers then come to do some shopping, but in the meantime they look at the rest …

The geometry of shopping centers is scientifically studied. In the areas near the entrances, for example, you are not "ready" for shopping: there are generally beauty salons, banks, video game rooms, newsstands or laundries. On the upper floors, customers go up less. It is worthwhile to put a point of "appeal": the restaurant. And make the plans visible from a square below, connected by escalators.

Essential strategy, to combine shopping with fun: it's called shoppertainment, shopping and entertainment (entertainment). The shops are flanked by spectacular aquariums and swimming pools, mini-golf courses … The Bluewater, in the Kingdom of the United Kingdom, has a lake for fishing. The Dubai Mall, in the United Arab Emirates, the largest in the world, includes an aquarium (with the largest acrylic glass panel in the world, in the photo: 32.88 m width × 8.3 m height), a playground, a lake with waterfall and an Olympic track for ice skating.

The mall is more a place than a … Non-place . The anthropologist Marc Augè defines in this way those spaces in which we cross millions of people without entering into a relationship, driven only by the desire to consume or the need to pass. The non-places are the airports, the stations and above all the shopping centers, which unlike places are not identity, relational and historical. And yet they also have a story …

When in 1952 the Austrian architect Victor Gruen was commissioned to design the first modern shopping center in Edina, Minnesota, he thought well of being inspired by Viennese architecture, placing his version of a European square (in the photo) at the center of the 75 stores. There were fountains, goldfish, sculptures and aquatic plants. The mall was called Southdale and its square helped "sell" the idea of ​​a place not only for shopping, but also for relaxing and socializing. Like in a small town. These oases of purchase, after all, do nothing but reproduce the "spontaneous" shopping centers that are the shopping streets in the city, where everything is found, concentrated in one area. Many nearby shops do not compete, but attract more consumers, who like to quickly compare offers and products: it is the agglomeration economy.

In the shopping centers there are also those who get married: in Bloomington, Minnesota, the Mall of America has inside a church - the Chapel of Love - where more than 7, 500 couples have married.

Like Zombie. In the eponymous film by George Romero in 1978, the zombies showed a strong attraction for a shopping center, where survivors had taken refuge. For the scientists they too were victims of the Gruen Transfer, which takes its name from the architect (1903-1980), creator of the first modern shopping centers: social psychologists thus indicate the moment when we stop shopping for something in particular, and we start shopping in general, attracted by the captivating displays and hidden strategies implemented by the malls because the goods seduce us.

Dead Malls. This is how the phantom shopping centers, which populate the suburbs of different cities, are called in the jargon, especially in the USA and China: centers that have closed their doors in the years of the financial crisis, when among other things it has become stronger e-commerce competition. In the US some "dead shopping centers" have been reinvented in churches, indoor farms, and apartment complexes, others remain abandoned, at the mercy of occasional urban explorers. There is also a website, dedicated to documenting these modern ruins.

Do you want to spend too much money in a mall? Go shopping in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study found that buyers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions.

Online shopping is not necessarily more ecological than going shopping in person. A recent study conducted at the University of Delaware showed that home shopping has a greater impact on the transport sector than one might suspect.

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In Italy today there are 1, 178 shopping centers, in which 365, 000 people work. The largest shopping center in the country is Oriocenter, located next to the Orio al Serio airport (BG) and Lombardy is the region with the largest number of shopping centers.