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The Mall is Dead. Long Live the Mall.

Now that Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday and the first day of Hanukkah are behind us, an interesting trend is emerging. It goes like this: Black Friday spending dropped by quite a bit, but overall holiday spending is expected to increase to the highest mark in five years.

It would appear that the grudge match between e-commerce and retail is tilting in e-commerce’s favor. It’s not hard to see why. E-commerce has out-evolved traditional retail by a longshot.

Between the mid-90s and now, e-commerce people got very smart, very fast about what their users were looking for and how to best give it to them. E-commerce companies had the freedom (and presence of mind) to explore and expand, learn from their experiences and turn on a dime.

Not so easy for a multi-million-square-foot mall.

But don’t put a fork in traditional retail yet. Innovative malls across the world are finding new ways to inject new life into their aging model. In November, McKinsey captured these interesting trends in a piece on the future of the shopping mall.

The gist of McKinsey’s analysis is that the malls of the future will do a better job of becoming a destination, integrating digital technology and living in harmony with their surroundings.

Instead of offering a traditional fountains-food-court-Macy’s experience, a growing number of malls are offering a more compelling value proposition: concerts, fine dining restaurants, trendy pop-up stores. Even theme parks. The point is to make the mall a place to go to have a great time, not just shop.

Rather than resisting it, forward-thinking malls are embracing digital technology, launching social media marketing programs, mobile apps and even creating web-based virtual malls to deepen shopper relationships.

Tomorrow’s malls will also look different—less like suburban behemoths and more like interesting sustainable architecture that blends in with surroundings. Newer malls are serving as mixed-use real estate, incorporating office and residential space, with a design focus on serving as a true commons, not just a place to park, shop and leave.

E-commerce seems to be winning the battle for shoppers this year. But if retail steps up and does a better job of giving people great experiences, the game is far from over.

By Jon Itkin, Senior Account Planner