If so, you may have noticed things are looking a little different. Anchor stores like Sears, which announced mass closings earlier this year, are shuttered. Smaller retailers are gone, some seemingly overnight. No wonder we’re seeing the term “Retail Apocalypse” in so many headlines – heck, it even has its own Wikipedia entry now!
So, what does all this mean? Are shopping malls really going the way of the dinosaur? Well, to quote College Gameday’s Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend.” Malls can still be relevant, but just like everything else in the world, they have to evolve. They have to give consumers something different, something special they won’t be able to experience anywhere else. Otherwise, why not just stay home and order a new pair of pajamas online – while wearing your old ones?
The good news is that shopping center owners seem to be getting the message. They’re thinking outside the box to fill their vacancies and attract customers with interactive experiences that they can’t get when shopping online.
Case in point: Cirque du Soleil is opening a “family entertainment center” in 2019 at a mall in Toronto where you’ll be able to bungee jump, walk a high-wire, and learn how to juggle (maybe all at the same time if you’re really talented). And we can’t forget the new American Dream Miami, a mega-mall under construction in South Florida that will feature an indoor ski slope, a water park, and a roller coaster.
And we’re not just talking food court options, either. Expect to see trendy offerings such as food halls, craft breweries, and restaurant concepts from well-known chefs.
For example, shopping center developer Westfield recently announced its “Destination 2028” vision which calls for some pretty futuristic advances such as AI-infused walkways and smart changing rooms. Tools are also being developed and deployed to monitor shoppers, which will retailers target marketing efforts and give customers a more personalized experience.
All of these trends represent a major shift from “mall as place to buy things” to “mall as place to build community.” Time will tell how successful these efforts will be, and if they can compete against the convenience of online shopping.
Which trends do you think have staying power, and which ones are just flashes in the pan? Leave your comments below.
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