A shopping mall (or simply mall) is a North American term for a large indoor shopping center, usually anchored by department stores. The term “mall” originally meant a pedestrian promenade with shops along it (that is, the term was used to refer to the walkway itself which was merely bordered by such shops), but in the late 1960s, it began to be used as a generic term for the large enclosed shopping centers that were becoming commonplace at the time. In the U.K., such complexes are considered shopping centres (Commonwealth English: shopping centre), though “shopping center” covers many more sizes and types of centers than the North American “mall”. Other countries may follow U.S. usage (India, U.A.E., etc.) and others (Australia, etc.) follow U.K. usage. In Canadian English, and oftentimes in Australia and New Zealand, ‘mall’ may be used informally but ‘shopping centre’ or merely ‘centre’ will feature in the name of the complex (such as Toronto Eaton Centre). The term ‘mall’ is less-commonly a part of the name of the complex.
Many malls have declined considerably (especially in the United States and Canada), and some have closed and become so-called “dead malls”. Successful exceptions have added entertainment and experiential features, added big-box stores as anchors, or converted to other specialized shopping center formats such as power centers, lifestyle centers, factory outlet centers, and festival marketplaces. In Canada, shopping centres have frequently been replaced with mixed-use highrise communities. (Wikipedia)
Here is an amazing photo collection that shows what American shopping malls looked like in the 1950s and 1960s.