I hate shopping. So I was delighted by my first ever visit to Wal-Mart yesterday. Very efficient, very cheap, I hopefully won't need to go again anytime soon.
Basically, I think the aim of such shops should be to minimize the amount of time we have to waste in them (or working to pay for such material things). I'm skeptical that commerce can have any deep value, so efficiency is all that's left for it. Give me Wal-Mart, then get me away from the blighted cityscape.
The alternative view, I suppose, would be to try to rescue commerce from the dull glint of the bottom dollar. Close down the factories, imbue production with a human touch, buy custom-made goods direct from the craftsman, and all that. The local market is certainly far more attractive than the mall, so all else being equal I'd jump at the replacement. But what are the opportunity costs? Their inefficiency means more time and effort must be invested to produce these material goods -- time and effort that might be better spent on non-commercial pursuits.
So my question is this: should we "invest" in improving the commercial sphere of society, or simply try to minimize it?