• A Contributor to Residents for a United Cupertino

The State of the Retail Economy Here in the Bay

Tomorrow evening, the City of Cupertino’s lecture series will feature a panel to discuss the state of the retail economy here in the Bay. This is especially important given that there are two failing malls here in Cupertino that have recently had development proposals put forth.

EVENT: The City of Cupertino on Thursday, July 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 in the Cupertino Community Hall, 10350 Torre Avenue


There are those Cupertino residents that argue that these malls should remain retail-only and point to the success of the Stanford Mall and Valley Fair as examples of thriving retail and question why it is that Cupertino cannot have our own thriving Valley Fair, in spite of years of failure at Vallco.

Other residents have argued that the model of Santana Row, which borrows from European style “Town Centers” with its mix of residential, office, entertainment, and retail uses provides a more stable and sustainable model for establishing and keeping successful retail. That the vision of destination retail is a significantly different experience-based retail that caters to customers whose tastes have changed since the 1960s style enclosed mall.

In the backdrop of this dialog, we see the relentless news headlines from all news sources pointing to a rapid demise of traditional retail this year with more than 500,000 employees let go, 8500 stores shuttered, many companies of note declaring bankruptcy, and malls all over the country being closed.

Time Magazine has an interesting analysis of the birth, life, and demise of the modern American mall:


The first enclosed mall opened in Southdale Center in Minnesota in 1956 with the goal of becoming a “hub for dense suburban developments that would include apartment buildings, hospitals and office space…. unfortunately, very few malls turned into engines of smart development, with people working, learning and living in addition to shopping. The locations tended to promote sprawl, not reduce it.”

“By 2022, analysts estimate that 1 out of every 4 malls in the U.S. could be out of business, victims of changing tastes, a widening wealth gap and the embrace of online shopping for everything from socks to swing sets.”

“Some of the great mall die-off is what economists refer to as a market correction. "We are over-retailed," says Ronald Friedman, a partner at Marcum LLP, which researches consumer trends. There is an estimated 26 sq. ft. of retail for every person in the U.S., compared with about 2.5 sq. ft. per capita in Europe. Roughly 60% of Macy's stores slated to close are within 10 miles of another Macy's.”

While residents will have our varying opinions, wants, and needs as to what will be successful for the future of Cupertino, we hope that this City-sponsored forum will provide the Community with much needed facts and data that can provide a basis for an informed and educated decision for the future of these two very important properties in Cupertino.