Electrical contractors and engineers who specialize in shopping mall construction may soon experience a market slowdown. According to the International Council of Shopping Centers, only three malls will open this year, compared with 13 in 1999. Lack of available land, high tenant costs, and struggling department stores are forcing developers to rethink their approach to shopping mall construction. Rather than building traditional shopping malls, developers are now constructing “power centers” or “lifestyles centers.” Power centers are strip malls that feature a cluster of “big-box” retailers like Home Depot, Target, or Wal-Mart.

Lifestyles centers are designed like downtown retail districts with a main street and parking spots available in front of stores. Traditional shopping malls often recruit department stores to anchor the project, but power and lifestyles centers tend to focus more on home improvement warehouses, supermarkets, and discount stores.