Can Sunrise Mall Survive The Online Shopping Apocalypse?

CITRUS HEIGHTS (CBS13) — As e-commerce takes over the retail industry, malls across the country are at risk of closing up shops and many are struggling to survive.

On any given weekday if you walk around the parking lot at the Sunrise Mall, you’ll notice it’s mostly empty. The city says business is bad and has been for years now.

City leaders say it’s because everyone is shopping online and now Citrus Heights could be planning to redevelop the space.

Chris Ferguson is an avid “Sunrise Mall Walker.”

“Every day for 20 years,” she said.

She’s seen the mall grow and change over that time.

“I remember when the mall opened in the 1970s, it was a crowd,” Ferguson said.

READ ALSO: Dressbarn Is Going Out Of Business

Now, stores inside are empty. City leaders say 30% of the mall is vacant with sales steadily declining. That’s in part because anchor retailers such as Sears are closing their doors in Citrus Heights.

“What do you do with the space that big?” Ferguson said.

CBS13 speaks with businesses inside closing up shop. They say online shopping has made it hard to keep their brick and mortar business afloat. Customers see that pattern too

“Because everybody wants to go online. We need the customer service, we need the human interaction, one on one, we need it,” said Megan Robinson.

It’s something we’re seeing around the country. The National Retail Federation says online and non-store sales are up 10% while brick and mortar store sales are down, overall.

READ: New App Hopes To Create E-Commerce Niche For Local Retailers

Signa Crutcher worked at the mall in the 70s. She too says it’s sad to see this historic staple this way.

“It’s not as busy as it used to be. You walk in and you wonder where everyone is,” Crutcher said.

The mall has seen three separate owners over a 10-year period. We do know the newest owners are out of New York and have a reputation for taking run-down malls that have seen better days and revamping them.

This Thursday, City Council will discuss a redevelopment proposal. Leaders call the mall the city’s biggest economic engine, and they depend on sales tax revenue from its profits.