Difference between Mall and Galleria

Key Difference: Shopping malls or malls are large enclosed spaces that are often characterized with many stores that sell merchandise to the public. Malls can be medium to large in size, depending on the construction and the number of stores that it wants to hold. A galleria is actually a glass-enclosed promenade, which could house stores, a mall or anything of that sort.

Shopping malls and galleria are two words that are often confusing for many people when trying to differentiate between the two. Many people use galleria and mall interchangeably and while it is not wrong, it is completely accurate as well. A galleria could be a mall, though it does not have to be. Confused? Well, let’s try and simplify both the concepts.

Shopping malls or malls are large enclosed spaces that are often characterized with many stores that sell merchandise to the public. These places are also referred to as shopping arcade or shopping precinct. Malls can be medium to large in size, depending on the construction and the number of stores that it wants to hold. Shopping centers usually refer to smaller malls, while shopping malls are used to refer to the large shopping areas. The malls are enclosed and have centralized cooling or heating, depending on the weather and the area where the mall is located. Malls are also car-friendly and are associated with having large parking spaces in an underground parking lot or an adjoining building. The malls also have many different stores that sell many different kinds of merchandise, including food, jewelry, clothes, specialized stores, watches, etc.

The concept of the mall has not been a new one; they have been around since Ancient Rome. The concept itself has been acquired from the Trajan's Market that was one of the earliest shopping centers that established in Rome. Rome’s are also known for its many bazaars, which eventually developed to shopping malls. The malls gained popularity around the 1920s, following World War II, when people started shifting to the suburbs from the city. In order to make it easier for the people to shop, many stores were opened in one bigger store that allowed easier access to the various stores in the same place.

The malls have a variety of branded and local based stores. The prices of the stores also vary depending on the type of the store; while branded stores are quite pricy; other smaller stores offer normal prices on merchandise. Malls are also associated with having food courts, movie theatres, play area and many other attractions to draw in the public. A few malls, such as the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, have also housed an amusement park inside to mall itself. Malls are quite large and require a lot of time to try and visit every store. They have elevators, escalators, stairs and walkways to help the public get around from one place to another. There are various different kinds of malls: Neighborhood center, Community center, Regional center, Superregional center, Fashion/specialty center, Power center, Theme/festival center and outlet center. Another feature of the mall is that they cannot conduct sales online, they must have a proper outlet; though they can have their own websites that state upcoming events, the number of stores or a list of the stores they have, etc.

 A galleria is actually a glass-enclosed promenade, which could house stores, a mall or anything of that sort. Though originally it did not use to refer to malls, these days the term ‘galleria’ has become synonymous with shopping malls. The term is accepted from the Medieval Latin same word, ‘galeria’ meaning “gallery”. A galleria could also house restaurants, offices, shops and can even refer to an art gallery. However, art galleries may not always have the glass roof; they would still be referred to as galleria. The term galleria became synonymous with shopping mall because of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in Milan, Italy that was a shopping mall that is housed in a huge glass structure.

Thefreedictionary.com defines ‘galleria’ as:

  • A roofed passageway or indoor court usually containing a variety of shops or businesses.
  • A central court through several storeys of a shopping centre or department store onto which shops or departments open at each level

A galleria is actually any structure that is housed under a large glass roof. These days many malls have glass roofs that adds to the aesthetic appeal of the mall including utilizes natural lighting. There is no set guideline about classifying the mall according to the name and because of this many malls have added the galleria to its name. A shopping mall is any large structure that houses many stores and shops under one roof. Hence, it isn’t actually wrong to use galleria synonymously with the term mall.

Image Courtesy: prodryers.com, commons.wikimedia.org

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