08/13/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Mallrats Return: More People Flock To Malls...But Just To Hang Out

For more than a decade, malls have donned the trappings of community centers. Mall owners installed free or low-cost amenities like jogging routes, restaurants, movie theaters and merry-go-rounds to lure consumers and keep them shopping longer.

But now, in a recession that has consumers sitting on their wallets, those ancillary attractions suddenly seem more popular than the stores. The sideshow is now the big top.

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