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Why Malls Across America Are Filling Their Vacant Shops with Rack Computers

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Why Malls Across America Are Filling Their Vacant Shops with Rack Computers

The American mall is dying. Unlike the happier times of the 1990s and early 2000s, people just aren't heading to their beloved malls like they used to. Because these once venerable retail institutions are increasingly starving for cash,The Guardian estimates that 15 to 50% of all American malls will either shutter their doors or be re purposed within the next few decades. The change isn't only affecting shopping malls, but huge supermarket chains, like Target and Walmart.

According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, turning vacant spaces in malls into data centers made up of hundreds of rack computers is one of the most common ways derelict malls are being repurposed. A Target in Fort Wayne, Indiana is currently being updated with row upon row of server rack enclosures, routers, wiring, and other top of the line computer hardware. The once vibrant Marley Station Mall outside of Baltimore, Maryland has already leased a huge block of its building to an IT company that provides managed services to businesses through its forests of rack computers. These two changes are a microcosm of the much larger shift away from the physical storefront.

eCommerce Continues to Grow as Traditional Businesses Die Out
The reasons for the dying breed of super shopping locations is, of course, the meteoric rise of eCommerce. According to Internet Retailer, 65% of all web users at least browse for goods online before deciding to make a purchase, whether that ultimately ends up being from an online retailer or a physical storefront. The numbers are undeniably shifting towards online spending, however, as eMarketer estimates web surfers will shell out $1.5 trillion online by the end of 2014.

These trends in the world of eCommerce are the main reason why managed IT services are increasingly filling abandoned storefronts with their rack computers. On the one hand, these companies are helping to drive more traditional retailers out of business in a very real way. On the other, the increasing number of businesses online means that more and more people need enterprise computing solutions that will allow them to be successful in the digital age. In other words, it's a perfect storm for why malls, once the bastions of traditional commerce, are now little more than shells supporting the digital revolution.

Have you seen any of your favorite storefronts transformed into data centers? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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