Developments at the Meriden Mall over the past few years have not always been encouraging. Trends were already heading in a direction away from malls when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and the virus had an obvious impact on places where gathering in person was the point.
As the Record-Journal reported recently, over the last five years Meriden’s mall has lost some high-profile department stores: Macy’s, Sears and JC Penney. And while the arrival of Boscov’s has helped, it’s been clear that creative alternatives were worth pursuing, and that has now included medical office space. A dinner theater is also in the works.
More of this type of alternative approach is likely going to be needed now that Best Buy has announced it will not renew its lease at the mall and will close Oct. 30.
The closing reportedly did not come up during recent talks involving city officials and mall management and the Namdar Realty Group, and while it might not have made a difference the city ought to have been informed and given a chance to help.
“We want to see if they can reconsider and if there is anything the city can do to keep them here,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati told the R-J. “It’s such a big footprint at the Meriden Mall.”
Indeed it is. During the months of 2020 when the pandemic was keeping places closed, Best Buy had an increase in online sales, with customers buying televisions, computers and other devices as staying at home became more important. In comments reported at Moneywise.com, the company saw that shift as being permanent. Best Buy closed 20 locations in each of the last two years and expects to close a higher number this year.
Considering the trend, the city has little choice but to explore alternatives. It’s likely we’ll see more of the creative approach taking place at the mall.