Things You Should Never Buy at the Mall

Shopping Mall

Shopping Mall by Harrison Keely (CC BY)

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Shopping Mall
Shopping Mall by Harrison Keely (CC BY)

Money Mistakes at the Mall

Malls will never truly disappear from American life, even if their heyday seems to have come and gone. That’s because the mall seems like it should be the best place to buy everything you're looking for. However, just because you can get it at the galleria doesn’t mean it’s your best option money or quality-wise. Here are 12 things you should NEVER buy at a mall. 

Engagement Ring

Engagement Rings

Those bright, sparkling rings lined up in showcases look lovely, but they’re a rip-off. Most mall jewelry stores are chains, meaning their rings are mass-produced and of lesser quality. Plus, their diamonds are usually poorly cut and have poor clarity. Do you really want to cheap out on something meant to last forever?

Specialty gift basket
Specialty gift basket by Calvert Cafe & Catering (CC BY)


We don’t mean food court food — go ahead and chow down all the Panda Express and Auntie Anne’s Pretzels your heart desires. But stay away from wrapped-up specialty foods that look like they would be a great gift. You have no idea how long it’s been sitting there in that mall and probably don't want to.

Woman putting soft white mattress on bed indoors, closeup
Liudmila Chernetska/istockphoto


Mattress stores inside a mall usually have a very limited selection. For something you’re going to be using for hours every single day, it’s worth exploring what’s available online. Plus, you’re unlikely to find as good a deal in the mall as you will with a little searching online. 

Pinscher puppy at home
Caíque de Abreu/istockphoto


Unfortunately, some areas of the country still allow pet stores in their malls. It may feel like you’re “saving” those sweet puppies stuck in cages, but you’re perpetuating the cycle of keeping puppy mills in business. No pet store in a mall is a legitimate place to buy a pet, no matter what they say.

Books by Abhi Sharma (CC BY)


As much as we love browsing through a Barnes & Noble when we can find one, buying books at the mall is simply a waste of your hard-earned dollars. Try your local library first, and look for used editions on Amazon next. 

Gift Cards
Gift Cards by Mike Mozart (CC BY)

Gift Cards

It’s so easy to just grab a gift card at one of those revolving stands when you don’t know what to get someone. But buying gift cards is a surprising waste of money. Most people never use it. About $21 billion in gift cards is sitting unspent in America, according to Credit Summit

assortment of winter jackets and down jackets

Coats and Jackets

Heading to the mall during the winter season to get a new coat seems logical, but you’re unlikely to find the great deals and selection you would if you bought it online. Again, for something worn so frequently, it’s worth going beyond perusing the few pieces hanging on the rack. 

Electronics by Curlyrnd (CC BY-SA)


In this case, we mean those little kiosks that sell all kinds of random electronic gadgets. Those things are unlikely to last long  because of how cheaply they’re made. If you’re in a mall and looking for electronics, stick to the big guys like Best Buy or Newegg. 

Woman buying item at yard sale
David Sacks/istockphoto

"Antique" Items

It would be rare indeed for a mall to sell an item that is truly an antique piece. After all, malls are simply made to house stores for the masses. Instead, seek out antique dealers and better yet, tag sales, for true one-of-a-kind items.

Frying Egg in a Cooking Pan in Domestic Kitchen


Stores like Sur La Table or Williams and Sonoma are certainly fun for chefs to browse, but if you need true daily workhorse-type products, these stores typically offer gimmicky items that are overpriced. Your best bet is to look into what brands offer what you need, not what stores do, and wait for deals to pop up. 

Office Supplies
Office Supplies by DIetmar Rabich (CC BY-SA)

Office Supplies

Those cute stationary stores are a tempting place to stock up on paper, pens, and various office items. Don’t let the pretty colors and designs, which are usually overpriced, suck you in. It makes way more sense to get the basics at a wholesale club or big box store like Walmart.

Car by Matthias v.d. Elbe (CC BY-SA)


Back in the day, malls were ideal places to showcase the newest and coolest vehicles. While not all malls still plop cars into the center of the shops, it would be incredibly stupid to get sucked in by a salesperson and buy a car at a mall. Just don’t ever do it.

Home Decor
Home Decor by Basile Morin (CC BY-SA)

Home Decor

If you like decorating your home to look like everyone else’s, go ahead and buy that lamp, picture, or any decorative pillows at the mall. You’re also unlikely to find any sort of great deals when you get these types of items in a mall shop.