A strip mall (also called a shopping plaza, shopping center, or mini-mall) is an open-air shopping mall where the stores are arranged in a row, with a sidewalk in front. Strip malls are typically developed as a unit and have large parking lots in front. They face major traffic arterials and tend to be self-contained with few pedestrian connections to surrounding neighborhoods.
In the United States and Canada, strip malls usually range in size from 5,000 square feet (460 m2) to over 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2). The smaller variety is more common and often located at the intersection of major streets in residential areas; it caters to a small residential area. This type of strip mall is found in nearly every city or town in the United States and Canada; it is service-oriented and may contain a grocery store, hair salon, dry cleaner, laundromat, small restaurant, and similar stores such as a general store, toy store, pet store, jewelry store, mattress store, corner store, thrift shop, or pawn shop. In the past, pharmacies were often located next to the grocery stores, but are now often free-standing or contained within the anchor tenant (e.g. Walmart, Target) or grocery store. Gas stations, banks, and other businesses also may have their own free-standing buildings in the parking lot of the strip center.
The other variety of strip mall in the United States is usually anchored on one end by a big box retailer, such as Wal-Mart, Kohl's or Target, and/or by a large supermarket on the other. They are usually referred to as power centers in the real estate development industry because they attract and cater to residents of an expanded population area. The categories of retailers may vary widely, from electronics stores to bookstores to home improvement stores, dollar stores, and boutiques. There are typically only a few of this type of strip malls in a city, compared to the smaller types. Retailers vary from center to center, ranging from three or four large retailers to a dozen or more.
Some strip malls are hybrids of these types.
Strip malls are ubiquitous throughout the United States and outnumber traditional large shopping malls by a huge margin. As The New York Times pointed out in 2013, the United States has 685 class-A, super-regional malls and 65,840 strip malls.