Yvonne Abraham nailed it in her column today about the emptiness that the Uptown Wing of the Natick Mall has become.
The kidlet and I roamed its sparsely populated walkways today and man, was it empty (don't worry, we weren't there to either smirk or check up on Abraham; we happened to be out that way anyway so we stopped in at Sears to get something truly boring and then decided to walk around). Clerks stared out at us bored as can be, when they weren't too busy chatting with each other or, as in the case above, abandoning all pretense that any customers would come in and so just surfing the Web. Even Neiman-Marcus was pretty much empty, which is probably just as well, since the kidlet spent most of our short stay there loudly complaining about how expensive everything was (I admit I snorted out loud when I saw a Juicy infant romper, although I couldn't decide which was worse: The sexualization of infants or the fact that the thing was going for $73).
However, I'm betting Abraham stayed on the second floor, because we did find one retail bright spot on the first floor: The Apple Store, which, while not packed wall to wall, seemed reasonably busy.
Meanwhile, the Ghetto Wing, i.e., the original mall, seemed to have a decent number of people walking around. We actually had to spend 30 seconds scouting out a table at the food court (I recommend the Indian food). I have no doubt people are buying less there, as well, but it still felt like a functioning place of commerce rather than a Potemkin Mall.