What Is a Strip Mall? Overview and 5 Facts

A strip mall is a common style of retail center in North America, consisting of a row of businesses with a walkway in front. Typically, strip malls consist of a single structure with expansive parking spaces in front. Let’s gain a deeper understanding of strip malls by reading the following articles. 

What Is a Strip Mall?

A strip mall is a collection of retailers sharing a structure and parking lot. They typically include pharmacies, small grocery stores, quick-service restaurants, and modest, independent coffee shops.

Typically, the structure is situated near a major intersection in a town or city and is easiest to reach by car. It may be challenging to bicycle or walk to a strip mall due to the normal high level of traffic.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Another sort of strip mall or mini-mall is comprised of “big box” retailers such as Kmart, Wal-Mart, and Target. They generally feature a grocery store, a bookstore, a pet supply store, a vendor of electronic goods, or a range of other retail stores and fast food or chain restaurants.

Similar to its smaller version, the power center is often located in a congested region near a major highway or crossroads, making it difficult to reach on foot. Strip malls differ from larger shopping malls in that they have fewer stores and are not enclosed.

Similar to its smaller counterpart, the power center is frequently situated in a crowded area near a major highway or intersection, making it difficult to reach on foot. Strip malls differ from larger retail malls in that they are not enclosed and feature fewer stores.

With the development of big-box retailers, strip malls are increasingly likely to exhibit identical architecture, where all buildings share a common concept or resemble one another, so enhancing their aesthetic appeal.

The fact that these shopping centers are frequently located in close proximity to one another is one of their main flaws. In the vast majority of enormous suburban sprawl, successive streets are encountered. In addition, their exclusivity to automobiles tends to exacerbate traffic in already congested areas.

Since autos provide the most accessible access to the strip mall, some individuals are concerned about the shift from walking and public transportation to private automobiles, which would increase fuel consumption and pollution.

This has inspired some architects to design live/work settings that often include condominiums or apartments within or adjacent to retail companies. Due of its proximity to roads and traffic congestion, few people would want to live near these establishments.

The conversion of properties into low-income housing correlates with a rise in the crime rate. Consequently, the strip mall’s security may become compromised. It suggests that some live-and-work spaces located away from intense traffic are rather efficient.

What Is a Strip Mall?

The eradication of strip malls as a municipal element is improbable despite objections. They are more handy than mall shopping because consumers may park close to their desired store and do not need to enter other buildings to reach their goal. People might find the stores to be convenient, but they might also find them to be unsightly.

A Brief History of the Strip Mall

Strip malls can be traced back thousands of years to a time when merchants gathered in common spaces to trade or exchange items.

Beginning in the early twentieth century, strip malls resembling those of the present began to appear. After World War II, progress accelerated, particularly as automobiles became more accessible to the general public.

Despite significant criticism for many of its identifying characteristics, such as drab façade and crowded parking lots, these open-air retail complexes continue to proliferate throughout the nation.

These open-air retail complexes continue to proliferate across the country despite major criticism for many of their distinguishing qualities, such as their drab facades and crowded parking lots.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Despite widespread criticism for many of their distinguishing characteristics, such as their drab façade and crowded parking lots, these open-air retail complexes continue to develop throughout the country.

Additionally, there may be a fast-food restaurant or bank that shares a parking lot with the other businesses but is not contiguous to them. Historically, strip malls have been developed with an emphasis on function and minimal aesthetic attention. However, there has been a recent tendency toward developing more aesthetically pleasing venues for customers.

Types Of Strip Mall

Mini-mall / strip plaza

This variation serves a smaller residential area and is typically located at the intersection of main roads in residential areas. This type of strip mall or plaza can be found in nearly every city or town in the United States and Canada.

It may consist of a grocery store, hair salon, dry cleaner, laundromat, small restaurant, discount stores, variety stores, and extra retailers such a general store, toy store, pet store, jewelry store, mattress store, convenience store, thrift shop, or pawn shop.

Historically, pharmacies were typically positioned near grocery stores; however, they are now either freestanding or within the anchor tenant (e.g., Walmart, Target) or grocery store. Moreover, gas stations, banks, and other businesses may have freestanding structures in the parking lot of the strip center.

Big box center / power center

In the United States, the second type of strip mall is frequently anchored on one end by a big-box shop like Walmart, Kohl’s, or Target and/or a major grocery like Kroger, Publix, or Winn-Dixie. They are referred to as power centers in the real estate development sector since they attract and serve residents from a large demographic region.

There are a variety of retail establishments, including booksellers, dollar stores, home improvement stores, dollar stores, and boutiques. This style of strip mall is unusual in urban settings compared to its smaller alternatives. The number of stores varies from center to center, ranging from three or four to twelve or more. Some strip malls combine the above characteristics.

Strip Mall vs. Indoor Mall

Indoor shopping malls, once the pinnacle of American materialism, now struggle to maintain relevance in the face of a major shift toward online shopping. In conjunction with rising leasing rates, this has resulted in an unprecedented number of mall vacancies throughout the United States.

Strip malls perform marginally better due to numerous factors.

1. Low Overhead

What Is a Strip Mall?

Indoor shopping malls, once the apex of American consumerism, now struggle to remain relevant in the face of a significant shift toward online shopping.

Together with rising rental rates, this has led to an unprecedented amount of mall vacancies around the United States. Due to a number of factors, strip malls perform marginally better.

2. Anchor Tenants

Anchor tenants in shopping malls are typically renowned department stores. These well-known businesses attract their own customers and direct them to other stores for a single visit. There could be weeks or even months between journeys.

In contrast, strip malls typically include anchor tenants such as big-box retailers, coffee shops, grocery stores, and gyms, which all attract customers multiple times per week.

When customers opt to visit a neighboring business prior to or after their destination, the surrounding business has the opportunity to generate more money.

3. Independent Success

When vacancies arise in an enclosed shopping mall, particularly among anchor tenants, the surrounding companies are negatively affected. Vacant retail premises have a negative effect on both operator income and foot traffic.

Customers will have fewer reasons to visit and fewer chances to inspect the remaining stores, as the majority of stores will only be visible and accessible from within. Malls with poor performance have trouble attracting and retaining high-rent tenants, threatening their ability to continue operations.

The level of commercial activity within a strip mall varies. They can succeed even if a neighboring one fails. Vacancies are typically simple to fill, and businesses can still attract new customers due to their street visibility.

The Future of the Strip Mall

Convenience is the saving grace that saves strip malls from vanishing, but if these complexes are to thrive and not just exist, substantial upgrades are required. One of the most frequent critiques of strip malls is that they are ugly.

This has been mitigated in part by the trend toward uniform façade, but strip malls might go even farther by incorporating community-specific characteristics.

The addition of a town’s distinctive personality to a dreary place could enhance public perception, assuage residents’ anxieties, and transform the region into a welcome asset for the community, rather than a nuisance.

The overemphasis on automobiles in strip malls is another issue. Developers can incorporate widened walkways and public transportation stops to accommodate individuals who utilize alternative modes of transportation out of necessity or choice.

Tricia graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Literature and has contributed frequently to SmartCapitalMind for many years.

She loves reading and writing, but is also interested in medicine, art, films, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia resides in Northern California and is currently composing her debut novel.

Tricia has been an active contributor to SmartCapitalMind for many years and holds a degree in Literature from Sonoma State University. In addition to medicine, she is also interested in art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion.

However, reading and writing are her primary interests. Tricia currently resides in Northern California and is composing her debut novel.

What Is a Strip Mall?

Who Manages Strip Malls?

Strip malls are typically managed by larger property management firms specializing in retail management. Many of these facilities are owned or managed by organizations that also own or manage numerous other retail establishments.

Companies such as Simon Property Group manage hundreds of retail properties, giving them the expertise necessary to manage the complexities of strip mall locations. Multiple competing stores for the best lease require specialized management skills.


A trip mall is a collection of retail establishments, often fewer than three miles in length and situated along a highway or commercial strip. The United States is the primary user of this word. When traveling by a strip mall, it is often easier for consumers to locate new stores.

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