I’M told it’s the “Golden Z” although I’ve never met anyone who actually calls it that have you? What it means is the vague Z-shape in Glasgow made up of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street. And it’s in trouble. The Z is shaky.

Part of the problem is the decline of the high street generally, but the other issue is the fate of what used to be the sparkliest bits of the Z: the two mammoth shopping centres, St Enoch and Buchanan Galleries. In the 80s and 90s, they were churches on the hill. Come to us, they said, and you will be fulfilled.

And we did. I did. When Buchanan Galleries opened in 1999, people ooo-ed and aah-ed their way up the escalators, like they’d never seen shops before. And because I’m pretentious, I thought of Dawn of the Dead, George Romero’s zombie horror movie set in a shopping mall. Romero’s point in that film was that, in a consumer society, we’re all zombies really or will be: “soon they will be stronger than you.” Too right. I was weak. I headed to the mall and loved it.

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But now it’s different. Now the mall, or the shopping centre, is in trouble. In fact, in cities across the UK, there’s a phenomenon called the “ghost mall”: shopping centres that used to be full but are now looking increasingly gap-toothed, empty units dotted in between the ones that are struggling on. I saw it in Braehead the other day, and St Enoch. And even the Savoy Centre on Sauchiehall Street (one of my faves but always at the cheery, budget end) is looking empty and ghostly.

My home town, Aberdeen, has suffered as well. The owners of the Bon Accord Centre for example went bust last year, and although it doesn’t spell the imminent end of shopping centres – in fact, one of the retailers that quit the Bon Accord, clothes shop Quiz, opened a new store this week in another centre, Union Square – it does raise the question of their future.

Part of the problem is that a lot of the centres were built in the 80s and early 90s when the answer to everything was: go big. Thirty years on however, with more of us working at home and fewer people commuting into cities, people are finding they prefer home deliveries or – get this – shopping locally in the suburbs or commuter towns.

The owners of Buchanan Galleries for one can clearly see the trend and are currently consulting on plans to demolish the centre and replace it with a grid of streets including shops, restaurants and green spaces. Consultants have also been appointed to revitalise the Golden Z more generally and are planning consultations with the public in the coming weeks.

In some ways, this is pretty depressing stuff, that a centre like Buchanan Galleries is being considered for demolition little more than 20 years after it was opened. Think of the money. Think of the waste. But the reality is that commerce cannot resist consumer behaviour for long and if people haven’t returned in force to the cities, the wrecking ball must swing.

One of the other companies that’s reflecting these trends is M&S. They used to have a big store on Sauchiehall Street – oh, how we miss the food hall – but it shut and M&S announced this week it’ll be opening a few new, smaller stores, including one in Largs. The boss Stuart Machin said it was about ensuring they had the right stores in the right place, and the right place is changing.

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Obviously, there are down sides to all of this: I worry about the economy in city-centres, especially the small, often family businesses like sandwich shops that rely on office workers. But most of us have the shopping-centre problem now: the big malls just don’t fit in with the way we live and work and it's why some of them are struggling. It’s why we have ghost malls.

As for the up side – and Buchanan Galleries has a chance of achieving this – it’s that some parts of our city centres may need to return to the blueprint that existed before malls: a mix of small shops, cafes, green spaces, and most important of all: homes.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m sad at the decline of the malls that thrived in the bright lights of the 80s – I was dazzled like everyone else. But as the pendulum, and the wrecking ball, swings, perhaps we could be about to get something better.