Erica Dao used to shop at malls once a month, looking in stores and seeing what the mannequins displayed. Now, she mainly looks for inspiration on social media. “I discover brands through Instagram,” said Dao, 33, of St. Paul, Minnesota.
Those kind of shifts illustrate the way people are changing how they buy clothing. Shoppers aren’t just showrooming at stores and then buying the same items online if they can find better prices—it’s a more significant separation from the mall. That is spelling big problems for mall chains like The Limited, which has shut all 250 of its stores, and Wet Seal, which filed for bankruptcy.