Illustration: Barry Blitt
Maybe it's karma: The mall has been blamed for killing America's main streets, stealing business away from mom-and-pop shops. But now malls themselves may be on the endangered list. In April General Growth Properties, which owns or manages more than 200 malls, filed for bankruptcy, and retail analyst Burt Flickinger III, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group in New York, predicts that up to 3,000 will close in 2009.
But with so many of us now depending on these places to socialize, de-stress, even exercise, what can we do when the local mall is shuttered? Mary Gresham, PhD, a clinical psychologist in Atlanta, suggests several alternatives. "When people shop, they almost go into a trance, a pleasurable state in which they lose their sense of time and are oblivious to other things," she says. But crafts—knitting, jewelry making, and quilting—create a similar response. And you still end up with a new material good.
6. Ration Your Willpower
"Our ability to fight temptation weakens, almost as if we get tired," says Duke's Dan Ariely. After engaging in activities that require willpower, you won't have as much energy left for other challenges, explains Kathleen D. Vohs, PhD, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota. So if you're using every ounce of discipline at the food court because you're on a diet, or you're trying to quit smoking, you'll be less able to pass up a pair of pumps in a display window.
Although Vohs says there's no easy way to build self-control, she suggests practicing it in small doses: Try sitting up straight, using your nondominant hand, and not swearing for a week. "I'm not willing to bet the farm," she says, "but we've seen small improvements."
4 more things to think about before you say "I'll take it."
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