What Is a Strip Mall? Overview and 5 Facts

A strip mall is a typical style of retail center in North America consisting of a row of businesses with a walkway in front. Typically, strip malls are created as a single entity and feature expansive parking lots in front. Let’s learn more about strip mall from the articles below.

What Is a Strip Mall?

A strip mall is a cluster of retailers positioned within the same structure and sharing a parking lot. Typically, they feature pharmacies, small supermarkets, quick food restaurants, and tiny, independent cafés.

Typically, the structure is placed near a key junction in a town or city and is most accessible by automobile. Bicycling or walking to a strip mall might be challenging due to the normal high level of traffic.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Often referred to as a power center, another form of strip mall or mini-mall features “big box” retailers such as Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Target. Typically, they contain other stores, such as a grocery store, a bookshop, a pet supply store, an electronics retailer, or a range of other retail outlets and fast food or chain restaurants.

Similar to the smaller counterpart, the power center is typically positioned in a busy area near a major highway or crossroads and may be difficult to reach on foot. Strip malls vary from bigger shopping malls in that they typically have fewer retail stores and are open rather than enclosed.

Early ones may have been useful, but they were frequently viewed as eyesores. The first versions typically lacked regular architecture and consisted of a hodgepodge of structures, making them undesirable locations.

With the advent of large box stores, strip malls are more likely to feature homogeneous design, where all buildings have a common concept or resemble one another, making them more aesthetically pleasant.

One of the biggest issues with these shopping districts is that they are frequently constructed adjacent to one another. In the majority of huge suburbia, some streets can be encountered one after another. Additionally, the fact that they can only be reached by automobile tends to exacerbate traffic in already congested neighborhoods.

Since automobile access to the strip mall is the most convenient, some individuals are concerned about the shift from walking and public transportation to an overreliance on individual cars, which would increase fuel consumption and pollution.

This has prompted some architects to build live/work settings that frequently include condominiums or flats within or immediately adjacent to stores. Due to their proximity to roads and traffic congestion, few individuals would prefer to reside in close proximity to these establishments.

dwellings are frequently converted into low-income housing, which is connected with a greater crime rate. This may subsequently make the strip mall less secure. It appears that some live/work locations located away from heavy traffic are fairly effective.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Despite worries about strip malls as a municipal element, their extinction is improbable. They are more convenient than mall shopping since consumers can park close to the store they wish to visit and do not have to enter other buildings to reach it. People may find the stores handy, but they may also find them unattractive.

A Brief History of the Strip Mall

Surprisingly, the origins of strip malls may be traced back thousands of years, to a time when merchants gathered in common areas to trade or exchange items.

In the early twentieth century, strip malls that more closely resemble the ones we see today began to appear. During the period following World War II, development accelerated, particularly as automobiles became more accessible to the general public.

Despite widespread disdain for many of its defining characteristics, such as drab façade and crowded parking, these open-air retail complexes continue to proliferate in every region of the country.

The demand is largely due to the fact that strip malls provide an unprecedented level of convenience as figurative “one-stop shopping” for the most frequently utilized basic items and services. Where else but a strip mall can you purchase toiletries, get a haircut, and get lunch without ever having to leave your parking space?

What Is a Strip Mall?

Since the 1950s, strip malls have shifted from a simple series of businesses placed in a straight line to more complex layouts. There may be clusters of three or four retailers located at various locations across the shopping center, as opposed to a single row of businesses.

There may also be a fast food restaurant or bank that shares a parking lot with the other shops but is not next to any of them. Historically, strip malls have been planned largely with function in mind, with minimal aesthetic thought. Recently, though, there has been a movement toward constructing more visually pleasing venues for customers.

Strip Mall vs. Indoor Mall

Indoor retail malls, long the epitome of American consumerism, struggle to maintain relevance in the face of a massive shift toward internet shopping. This, along with rising rental costs, has resulted in an astounding number of mall vacancies around the United States.

Strip malls perform marginally better due to a number of factors.

1. Low Overhead

What Is a Strip Mall?

Indoor shopping malls, once the apex of American materialism, are now struggling to maintain relevance in the face of a significant shift toward online shopping.

Together with growing leasing rates, this has led to an incredible amount of mall vacancies around the United States. Strip malls perform marginally better for a variety of reasons.

2. Anchor Tenants

Typically, well-known department shops serve as anchor tenants in shopping malls. These well-known brands serve to attract their own customers and drive them to other stores in the mall, but just for a single visit. There may be weeks or even months before a repeat journey is required.

Strip malls, on the other hand, typically have anchor tenants such as big-box retailers, coffee shops, grocery stores, and gyms, all of which attract customers numerous times each week.

When consumers opt to stop by a neighboring business before or after visiting their destination, the neighboring business gains potential income.

3. Independent Success

When vacancies develop in an enclosed mall, especially among anchor tenants, it has a negative effect on the surrounding companies. Vacant retail locations reduce both operator income and foot traffic.

Due to the fact that stores are mostly only visible and accessible from interior locations, customers will have less reasons to visit and fewer opportunity to investigate the remaining stores. Malls with poor performance struggle to attract and maintain high-rent tenants, compromising their ability to continue operations.

The degree of interaction between businesses inside a strip mall varies. They can succeed even if a neighboring one fails. Vacancies are generally simple to fill, and because businesses are visible from the street, they can still attract new consumers.

The Future of the Strip Mall

Convenience is the saving grace that stops strip malls from vanishing, but if these complexes are to thrive and not merely survive, more substantial upgrades are required. One of the most frequent complaints about strip malls is that they are an eyesore.

This has been mitigated in part by the trend toward homogeneous façade, but strip malls might go one step further by incorporating characteristics of the community in which they are located.

Adding a town’s particular character to an otherwise drab location might improve public perception, soothe citizens’ anxieties, and make the area into a welcome addition to the community, rather than a nuisance.

Another issue is that strip malls focus too much on automobiles. Expanded walkways and public transit stops can be incorporated by developers to accommodate persons who utilize alternative means of transportation out of need or choice.

Tricia holds a degree in Literature from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent contributor to SmartCapitalMind for many years.

She is particularly enthusiastic about reading and writing, but she is also interested in medicine, art, movies, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia presently resides in Northern California and is working on her debut novel.

Tricia graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Literature and has been an active contributor to SmartCapitalMind for many years. Her other interests include medicine, art, movies, history, politics, ethics, and religion.

She is most enthusiastic about reading and writing, though. Tricia resides in Northern California and is presently writing her debut novel.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Who Manages Strip Malls?

Larger property management organizations that specialize in retail management typically operate strip malls. Many of these sites are managed by corporations who also own or manage multiple other retail locations.

Companies like Simon Property Group manage hundreds of retail properties, providing them the knowledge and expertise necessary to manage the complexities of strip mall sites. Multiple stores competing for the best lease require specific management abilities.


In short, trip mall is a collection of several retail stores, usually less than three miles long, situated along a commercial strip or highway. The term is used primarily in the United States.

Strip malls do have many advantage, it can be easier for shoppers to discover new retailers whenever they drive by the mall.

5/5 - (1 vote)
Pat Moriarty
Follow me

Leave a Comment