Skip to main content



 Museum of Malls

Site Glossary

Though we try not to, we often use terminology that might not be well-known to those outside of the retail nerd landscape. Here are some of those words including brief explanations that hopefully won't leave you in the dark.

Anchor: the largest store in a mall, typically a department store in a highly visible area that management hopes will assist in bringing shoppers inside the mall. With newer redevelopment, tenants like cinemas, family entertainment centers, and even museums can be considered anchors.

Dead Mall: a mall with a high vacancy rate, low consumer traffic level, or is dated or deteriorating in some manner. For purposes of inclusion on this site, defines a dead mall as one having a occupancy rate in slow or steady decline of 70% or less.

Outparcel: A tenant situated outside of the mall with no direct mall access

Primary Store: Usually a store that belongs to part of a large regional or national chain. A primary store usually will construct it's own format storefront when it moves into a mall. You can find primary stores in most thriving malls.

Secondary Store: A store that moves into an existing retail space in a mall, they usually aren't a chain store, but more of a mom and pop location. These stores use existing storefronts, and usually are filling space in an otherwise dead mall.

Redevelopment: To change the architecture, layout, decor, or other component of a shopping center to attract more renters and draw more profits. Sometimes redevelopment can involve a switch from retail usage to office or educational usage of a building.

Mallmanac: A map which lists names of stores and diagrams the layout of a mall. This word is a Sniglet, which is "a word that should be in the dictionary, but isn't".

Kiosk: a shop or food stall that is found in the main concourse of an enclosed mall.

Labelscar: Fading or dirt left behind from a sign on or in a mall. Labelscars leave a readable marking, which is very helpful when identifying former stores.
(The term "labelscar" was brought to the forefront by Peter Blackbird in 1998 and is now widely used to describe this phenomenon)

SBNO: Standing but not operating. A center that is no longer open for retail use but has not been torn down

Shuttered: A mall that is no longer allowing customers into the interior parts of the center, though they may still have some retail operations from stores with exterior entrances

Enclosed: What many would typically think of when hearing the term "mall". A building with a common concourse surrounded by retail and other uses. The area is typically climate-controlled and started in the 1950s as a type of "air-conditioned sidewalks" as opposed to downtown shopping

Open Air: A center with no indoor common areas in which all tenants must be reached by exterior entrances

Big Box: A large store that deals in volume.

Category Killer Another term used to negatively describe a "Big Box", referring to the results when a Big Box opens opens and an entire category of Mom & Pop stores and/or small retailers in that category go out of business.

Ancillary Mall: A mall that has been supplanted by another shopping center, but is surviving as an alternative to the dominant mall.

Greyfields: malls where annual sales per square foot is less than $150, or one-third the rate of sales at a successful mall. (this term is used to describe dying malls and was coined by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the Center for the New Urbanism after the term "brownfields": old industrial sites).

Mall Classes: a way of dividing malls into categories based mainly on their sales per square foot, but also often on other factors such as their vacancy rate and overall tenant mix
  • Class A: $500 or more per square foot, typically includes national chains and low vacancies
  • Class B: $300 to $500 per square foot, typically includes a mix of national chains and local retailers with more vacancies
  • Class C: Less than $300 per square foot, typically includes few if any national chains and more local retailers with many vacancies


Popular Posts