Are Shopping Malls a Thing of the Past?


And then again, a large complex of stores might not make much sense in the future, but in the future…

I’m working on The Timkers — Borrowed Time, where the story is set in 2084. The world is a very different place for people as computer “personal assistants” anticipate our every (as in every) need. If we don’t destroy the world before then, imagine putting on your Hololens and shopping in a virtual mall.

Of course, by 2084, technology will have created implants which attach directly to the optical and auditory nerve centers in the brain, so we won’t need to put on a device. Turning it off might be an issue…

As you chat with friends and decide which chemistry set for niece Katie or food printer for uncle Bob, you leisurely stroll from virtual store to store — all in 3D. Yes, you’re walking — in your backyard or at home but without screaming kids spilling their orange crush on your shoes, no pushing and shoving, no pickpockets, and no lines (okay, shorter lines). I can see people trying on clothes (the system knows your sizes from earlobe to toenail), and chatting with friends who suggest the turquoise necklace does not go with the lime-green top. And then there’s no parking lot, no long drive home in holiday traffic, or the stress these invariably generate. Of course, the clothes are all printed for you on your own clothes printer and the new cookie recipes are pre-programmed into your food printer which even fills the kitchen with the smell of chocolate chip cookies or baked turkey and dressing.

Because your friends are shopping with you, it can still be a social experience, or a private family time, or just a time to just sit and visit even though your friends and family are spread all over the globe. In a blink, you can sit by a quiet river and enjoy the swans or stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon enjoying the sunset — all without leaving home.

So, yes, I see a future in “The Mall.” Perhaps not a brick-and-mortar facility with high rents and bigger parking lots, but something friendlier. Perhaps by 2084 — if we get that far.

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