ST. LOUIS – One of the St. Louis region’s oldest-standing shopping malls, South County Center, celebrates its 60th anniversary this weekend.
To reach that point is a remarkable achievement. Traditional shopping malls have embraced uncertainty in the 21st century with the rise of online shopping and changes in consumer preferences.
Forbes estimates that the United States was home to around 2,500 US shopping malls during their peak popularity in the 1980s. As of 2023, that number has dwindled down to 700. Some industry experts believe another 100-200 shopping malls will close for good over the next decade.
The Greater St. Louis Area has said goodbye to several malls over the last decade-plus, but a select few within Missouri and Illinois are still thriving. For those still in business, location, trendy goods and community engagement are essential.
How many malls are still open around the St. Louis metropolitan area? Let’s take a closer look…
Alton Square Mall
Municipality: Alton, Illinois
The main attractions include two anchors in JCPenney and Ross Dress For Less, plus a movie theater. Alton Square Mall has around 22 stores and restaurants and regularly hosts holiday photo opportunities.
Mid Rivers Mall
Municipality: St. Peters, Missouri
Backed by seven anchor stores, most notably Macy’s and Dillard’s, Mid Rivers Mall is the only traditional shopping mall venue of St. Charles County. There are an estimated 140 stores and services within the mall, and it also includes a movie theater. Many restaurants and standalone stores have set up around the mall over the last few decades.
Municipality: Frontenac, Missouri
The brands of Plaza Frontenac are ones that are hard to find much elsewhere around St. Louis. That starts with the anchors of Saks Fifth Avenue and Nieman Marcus. The mall exists in a relatively affluent area of St. Louis County and offers a variety of top-dollar specialty items, beauty products, clothing items and household goods within dozens of stores.
Saint Louis Galleria
Municipality: Richmond Heights, Missouri
Once the site of St. Louis-based department store chain Stix Baer & Fuller, the Saint Louis Galleria prevailed through new ownership and development plans in the mid-1980s. It’s become a very family-oriented mall over the years, introducing the first-ever Build-A-Bear store and attracting one of the few Apple stores in the region. With more than 140 businesses and restaurants, the mall also features a movie theater and the Helium Comedy Club.
South County Center
Municipality: Mehlville, Missouri
Celebrating its 60th birthday this weekend, South County Center offered a variety of activities and prizes for fans during Saturday’s celebration. Three common mall anchors – Macy’s, JCPenney and Dillard’s – lead a pack of roughly 100 stores. The mall has many desired destinations for hobby collectors and hosts various community and holiday-themed events from time to time.
St. Clair Square
Municipality: Fairview Heights, Illinois
Steady business has been key for St. Clair Square throughout the years, and it helps that it’s the only enclosed mall within a short drive of many Metro East communities. It carrries similar themes to malls on the Missouri side with Macy’s, JCPenney and Dillard’s as the anchors and roughly 140 tenants.
West County Center
Remodeled/Rebuilt: Early 2000s
Municipality: Des Peres, Missouri
One big advantage that West County Center holds over its rivals is its modern appeal. Owners decided to demolish the original mall structure in 2001, and reopened the new shopping grounds by late 2002. West County Center holds four anchors and more than 150 stores. It’s also featured some big brands, like Apple, Barnes & Noble and Lego stores, throughout the years.
Municipality: Chesterfield, Missouri
It’s still a place where people can shop and frequent for now, but Chesterfield Mall has an ambiguous future ahead, hence the asterisk. The Chesterfield Council recently approved a plan to create an apartment complex on the grounds of the mall. There have also been some liquidation sales events over the past year. But for now, a few anchors and junior anchors remain open, and some groups get to enjoy pickleball indoors.