NASH COUNTY, N.C. — During the pandemic, shopping at stores in person became less and less popular, and many thought malls would go under.

But some research show malls could make a comeback this year.


What You Need To Know

Data from real estate firm, CBRE predicts consumer spending will continue to rise in 2022

The report also shows the hottest retail spaces this year will be open-air centers and single drive-thru sites.

Retailers, and nonprofits alike hope this year brings customers back to malls


Something that attracts all of us to shop are the retailers themselves. A unique store inside Rocky Mount's Golden East Crossing Mall is Golden East Railroad Modelers. The nonprofit is all about the model ​train hobby. Its president, Thomas Hudson, says the attraction and the mall have a mutually beneficial relationship.

“It's good for us being in the mall because we have so many people that come through, to visit the trains that are interested in trains," Hudson said. "And us being here benefits the mall as well because people come in and visit other stores at the same time of visiting us.”

And Hudson says they brought in a lot of fans, like when they first moved into the mall in 2018.

"The first year that we were here, we had 10,876 visitors that year," Hudson said.

But like most attractions, they lost some visitors during the pandemic and had to shut down for about a year because of it.

He's hoping to turn that around, and a new report backs that wish up. Research from real estate firm CBRE predicts consumer spending will continue to rise in 2022.

And if more people are spending money at the mall, that means more donations for this nonprofit, so it can continue to share about this hobby it loves.

"That is what we are here for ... we hope to continue to grow," Hudson said.

Golden East Railroad Modelers is open Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.