The Evolution of Shopping Malls: Surviving in a Changing Retail Landscape
We’ve been reading headlines about the death of the shopping mall for the better part of the last decade. But here we are in late 2023, and the malls are still standing. So what gives?
According to a report by Axios, small shopping malls are now taking a page from the megamall playbook, where experiential offerings have already become a staple. With mall vacancy at the highest level it’s been for 15+ years, evolving offerings might be the only way to survive.
How Small Shopping Malls are Adapting to the Rise of Experiential Offerings
In place of traditional retail stores like Auntie Anne’s and Claire’s, malls are using entertainment and lifestyle experiences to attract foot traffic. For example, Georgia’s Macon Mall is home to a pickleball facility and a 10k-seat outdoor amphitheater, and it will soon house government office space. South Park Mall in San Antonio has plans to add a bowling alley, arcade, bumper cars, and a luxury movie theater.
The addition of these experiential offerings helps create a unique and memorable experience for shoppers, beyond just shopping. By providing a wide variety of entertainment options, small shopping malls hope to draw in customers who are looking for more than just a traditional retail experience. These offerings also cater to different age groups and interests, making the mall an appealing destination for families and entertainment seekers.
The Role of Entertainment and Lifestyle Experiences in Revitalizing Malls
Empty storefronts are increasingly being filled with doctors’ and dentists’ offices or full-fledged health care facilities, bringing patients as well as medical staff to the premises — all of whom could potentially use the facilities, eat in the food courts, and shop. Coworking companies are also finding homes in empty malls to lure hybrid workers, like Industrious, which took up residence in Arizona’s Scottsdale Fashion Square.
These new additions not only bring in foot traffic, but they also provide a comprehensive experience for visitors. By offering healthcare services and coworking spaces, malls are catering to the needs of the local community and providing convenience for shoppers. This diversification of offerings also helps to reduce the reliance on traditional retail stores, which have been struggling in recent years.
From Pickleball Courts to Luxury Movie Theaters: Innovative Approaches to Mall Attractions
The addition of unique attractions like pickleball courts and luxury movie theaters showcases the innovative approaches that small shopping malls are taking to stay relevant in a changing retail landscape. By offering activities and experiences that cannot be replicated online, malls are giving customers a reason to visit their physical locations.
These innovative attractions also create a sense of excitement and novelty, which can help generate buzz and draw in new customers. Additionally, they provide opportunities for socialization and community building, as people gather to participate in activities or watch movies together. This social aspect is something that online shopping cannot replicate, and it adds value to the overall shopping experience.
Beyond Retail: The Growing Influence of Health Care Services in Malls
While the shopping industry might be faltering, the global health care services market has ballooned to approximately $8 billion — and malls want a piece of the pie. Empty storefronts are being transformed into doctors’ and dentists’ offices, as well as full-fledged health care facilities.
Bringing health care services into malls not only helps to fill vacant spaces, but it also provides convenience for consumers. By having medical facilities located in malls, patients can easily access healthcare services while also taking care of other errands or shopping. This integration of healthcare services into malls is a win-win situation, as it benefits both the mall owners and the healthcare providers.
Transforming Empty Storefronts: The Rise of Doctors’ Offices and Coworking Spaces in Malls
In addition to health care services, malls are also transforming empty storefronts into coworking spaces. With the rise of hybrid work models, where employees split their time between working from home and the office, there is a growing demand for flexible workspace options. Malls provide an ideal location for coworking spaces, as they are often centrally located and offer a variety of amenities.
By repurposing empty storefronts into coworking spaces, malls can attract a new customer base of remote workers and entrepreneurs. These individuals can benefit from the convenience of having a professional workspace within a mall setting, which provides access to food options, shopping, and other amenities. This diversification of offerings helps malls remain relevant and adapt to the changing needs of the workforce.
The Cheesecake Factory and the Mall’s MVP: Exploring the Success of Anchor Stores
While mall offerings are evolving, some traditional anchor stores continue to thrive. The Cheesecake Factory, in particular, has enjoyed ongoing success in malls. The restaurant chain’s popularity and loyal customer base make it a draw for mall-goers, who often visit the mall specifically to dine at The Cheesecake Factory.
Anchor stores like The Cheesecake Factory play a crucial role in attracting customers and driving foot traffic to malls. By offering unique dining experiences or popular brands, these anchor stores become a destination in themselves. Their presence can significantly impact the success and vibrancy of a mall. Therefore, it’s vital for malls to continue to cultivate relationships with these anchor stores and adapt their offerings to meet the changing demands of consumers.
In conclusion, small shopping malls are adapting to the changing retail landscape by incorporating experiential offerings, such as entertainment attractions and lifestyle experiences. Additionally, the integration of health care services and coworking spaces is helping malls diversify their offerings and attract a broader range of customers. While the future of shopping malls may continue to evolve, one thing is clear: the key to survival lies in adaptation and providing unique experiences that cannot be replicated online.