The Healthcare Standard

Malls are Filling Their Empty Spaces With Doctor’s Offices

As malls search for innovative ways to draw in shoppers and fill empty storefronts, they are turning to unexpected partners: health clinics.

Mall of America in Minneapolis, America’s largest mall, announced plans last week to open a 2,300-square-foot walk-in clinic in November with medical exam rooms, a radiology room, lab space and a pharmacy dispensary service. Mall of America is teaming up with University of Minnesota physicians and a Minnesota-based health care system to operate the clinic.

The health care industry in the United States has ballooned to $3.5 trillion a year and retailers are increasingly trying to latch onto the booming market.

Mall of America’s concept is part of a small but growing trend of mall owners tapping health care providers to help them reinvigorate their shopping centers.

While mall leases for clothing retailers declined by more than 10% since 2017, medical clinics at malls have risen by almost 60% during the same period, according to Drew Myers, real estate analyst at CoStar Group. The growth of medical clinic leases at malls has been the “strongest among all major retail sectors over the past five years,” he said.

Mall landlords are betting that when patients visit for a flu shot or eye exam, they’ll shop around for clothes or electronics. Adding medical clinics also makes sense for mall owners because they draw in doctors, nurses and technicians every day who may shop and eat at restaurants, according to a May research report by real estate firm JLL. Health care providers are also attractive tenants for mall landlords because they tend to have high credit ratings and sign longer leases compared with other retailers, JLL analysts noted.

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