News Stories

The Mall is a Church for Some People

Most Americans are religious--just not all in the same way. An international study of holiday shopping and religion finds that dominant religious groups are likely to experience discomfort at all the "consumption mass hysteria" they encounter in shopping malls, while shoppers who are part of minority religions may see them more central meeting places that can play an active role in the creation of a sacred event.

The researchers found that for these consumers, shopping outlets aren't just shrines to spending. Instead, they can offer a gathering place where they can interact with others and temporarily overcome their minority religious status. In other words, a sacred place.

Some minority-religion consumers said they found comfort in marketplaces, or products, shared by those with similar beliefs. Marketing expert Ayalla Ruvio says, “Rather than the sacred being invaded by the secular, the sacred comes to inhabit the secular. In effect, the marketplace, though normally viewed as profane and commercial, can, through the collective actions of religious devotees, be transformed into a place of worship and fellowship.”

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