Not Just for Shopping. A shopping mall is an enclosed shopping area, often strikingly designed to be a safe, pleasant place for the entire family to shop. There are some shopping malls in the inner cities, but usually you drive to a mall in the outer areas or suburbs, and park your car in a lot that may be as big as an airfield. You will spend several hours here.
Uniformity. You can go into a mall anywhere in the United States and find exactly the same thing. The mall will have a few major department stores and hundreds of small specialty shops. The vast proportion of these specialty shops will be chain or franchise stores which will have identical signs and identical goods at identical prices anywhere you find them. There might be five shoe stores, twenty-five clothing stores, several toy and record stores, a pet store, a book store, and quite a few card and gift shops. There will also be a food section, perhaps a “food court” where you purchase food on trays from any of several food stands and eat at tables shared by all the restaurants. The mall might have a “five and ten cents” store, a supermarket, and a movie theater complex that may offer up to a dozen different films in separate theaters.
Promotions. Malls often feature various promotions or theme events. Merchants selling a certain type of product or handicraft will set up temporary stands in the aisles. Because the mall is such an important part of American life, a great deal of socializing goes on there. Teenagers go to the shopping mall just to meet each other.
One-Stop Lifestyle. The shopping mall is a convenient place to buy everything you need at once. For the newcomer to the United States it is also a wonderful place to observe American behavior, learn how Americans dress, talk and act, and, of course, to familiarize yourself with all the products and types of stores that sell them. Among the newer shopping malls, there is a growing trend toward offering more entertainment and less shopping.
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