They have been a destination for retail therapy for years - but one observer remarks that there may be more anxiety in shopping centre trips of the future.
Rushmere Shopping Centre in Craigavon has remained open during lockdown as it has a series of key retailers, such as Sainsbury's, Holland & Barrett and B&M Bargains. More shops at its retail park section will be open next week, such as Argos and Currys.
However, in the short term only outlets with direct street access or direct access within a retail park are allowed to open - which rules out many non-essential outlets in shopping centres such as fashion retailers.
Rushmere says it already has well-established social distancing practices, with one-way systems, live footfall cameras, floor stickers to mark two-metre gaps and heightened hygiene measures.
It is in a category of shopping centres which have fared relatively well during lockdown because of its essential shops. But for other centres which are dominated by fashion and leisure offerings such as restaurants and coffee shops, it may be a different matter.
Gone will be the pattern of shopping centre visits in the past - a leisurely dander through Primark or Next, followed by spontaneous visits to other shops, rounded off with a cappuccino and cupcake in a coffee shop.
Instead, we are likely to face prolonged queues for the most popular stores - and once inside, there will be one-way systems restricting our way around. And the popularity of stores like Primark could mean that you will have to book a visit in advance.
After all that queuing and bulk-buying, you might fancy a coffee and a sit-down - that could mean even more queuing outside the coffee shop, especially if its capacity is cut from 50 tables to 20 in order to maintain social distancing.
You might think, I'll sit down on a mall seat for a rest instead. But as Peter Murray of Newry's Buttercrane Shopping Centre has said, mall seats have been taken away, which means no lingering.
The role of shopping as a family expedition might also change - stores which have to restrict numbers may not want a family group of five taking up space. The only customer who counts is the one with the buying power, rather than the bored kids.
Many stores rely on impulse buys to bump up average spend - but there will be less scope for impulse.
However, the hassle of queuing may mean that people do more planning ahead, therefore more bulk-buying could take place. There are just a small number of essential retailers open in CastleCourt Shopping Centre in Belfast, such as Halifax, Holland & Barrett and Superdrug. It usually has around 13.5 million visitors a year. Across the city centre, Victoria Square is closed as it has no 'essential' retailers. The big question, too, for both centres is whether office workers return to the city centre in large numbers.
Our observer says: "Locations that have the most essential retailers and are more community centres are the ones that will do better long-term. Yes, footfall may be down 50% but at least they have maintained shoppers and their shopping habits.
"The big issue is if everyone stays at home and doesn't go back to the big urban areas to work; shops and shopping centres will all be affected. You might normally have 100,000 transient workers and students in a city centre, but if that goes down to 20,000, that has the biggest impact of all."
The physical layout of stores may also be different. With fewer people allowed in at a time, retailers might adjust the space for actual shopping, and instead increase their storage space - especially since goods which have been returned will need to be quarantined to make sure they're virus-free before they return to the shop floor. Changing rooms are already out of bounds.
Of course, plenty of us are die-hard shoppers and nothing will put us off spending our money when we're allowed to do so in brick-and-mortar stores rather than online. It might just take a bit more planning than before.