Photos of empty mall weekend before Christmas shows retail apocalypse

  • The weekend before Christmas is usually a major shopping event.
  • Marketplace Mall in Rochester, NY was eerily empty, and many stores were closed.
  • Thousands of stores have closed this year, and malls were already struggling.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The weekend before Christmas, particularly “Super Saturday,” is usually a major shopping day, though like other retail trends it was totally different this year. I visited Marketplace Mall in Rochester, NY the weekend before the holiday and found it practically empty.

It was hardly a surprise. Many retailers were forced to shutter this year in what has been dubbed the “retail apocalypse.” In January, Business Insider covered the way faltering malls added entertainment options to draw in shoppers and survive as anchor stores closed. Then, stay-at-home orders and the COVID-19 pandemic made matters worse; at least 8,300 stores closed in 2020, including Gap, Forever21, and JC Penney.

Read more: We asked the new owners of bankrupt brands like Brooks Brothers, Radio Shack, and Pier 1 about the plans to revive them

The National Retail Foundation estimated 150 million Super Saturday shoppers this year, up from 147 million in 2019, but that number includes both in-store and online shoppers. This mall, like many stores on Black Friday, was distinctly emptier this year compared to last as Americans are possibly avoiding crowds because of the risk of contracting COVID-19, and e-commerce has taken off as a result.

Check out the inside of a mall during a pandemic.