Is growing online shopping trend hurting Westfield Mall?

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The Westfield Palm Desert Mall has closed several stores in the past few years. The growing popularity of online shopping has caused big retailers, such as Payless and Charming Charlie, to go out of business, leaving malls with fewer stores to attract shoppers. Currently, there are 17 vacant stores and four empty restaurant locations at the Westfield mall.

Is online shopping hurting business? Fifty College of the Desert students were asked whether they prefer to shop in-store or online, and the majority of the polled said they prefer to shop in a store. Only 16 of them said they prefer to shop online.

First-year student Itzel Beltran said that she prefers to buy at the Palm Desert Mall because she is “able to try on clothes instead of taking a risk with online stores and having the items arrive differently from how they appeared.”

From the same 50 students that were polled, 38 of them said they had been to the mall in the past month, and 34 of them said that they have a favorable opinion of the mall.

Although the students polled do not prefer to shop online, online shopping is the leading cause of large companies having to file for bankruptcy and go out of business. Online shoppers find not having to leave their house more convenient and can find better deals online than in stores. Just recently, Forever 21 released a statement that it will be closing 108 locations, with 24 of them being in Southern California.

The stores still open at the Westfield Palm Desert Mall, seem to appeal to a younger demographic. Businesses like H&M, Forever 21 and American Eagle are keeping college students interested in returning to the mall. The mall is losing its older cliental. Stores like Macy’s, JCPenney’s and Sears are among the few retailers available to middle and older aged shoppers.

The Westfield Palm Desert Mall management was unavailable for questions, but it appears that they are trying to increase foot traffic by hosting events for the community. Some events include a YA Bookclub, the Annual STREET Fest, and a variety of Halloween events. Learn more about these events at Westfield started a new program this summer called Camp Westfield, where kids participated in a YMCA day camp.

With more businesses filing for bankruptcy, it is unclear if the Palm Desert Westfield Mall will be able to survive. Online shopping, regardless of whether the public favors it or not, seems to be our future.

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