Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales
Food courts and halls are attracting traffic to malls around the country, according to a new survey by UBS. They are not, however, proving successful in helping retail stores in those same shopping centers sell more clothing.
UBS’s research, CNBC reports, finds that consumers are increasingly going online to buy clothing rather than visiting malls. Today, 25 percent of all apparel is bought online, according to the investment bank, which forecasts that 31 percent of clothing sales will be purchased through digital channels by 2023.
Mall operators have increasingly relied on food halls, entertainment providers and other non-traditional tenants (gyms, co-working spaces, etc.) to get more people to visit their facilities. A report released last year by the real estate developer, Cushman & Wakefield, forecast that the number of malls with food halls would grow from 70 at the time to around 300 by 2020.
The survey of more than 2,500 consumers by UBS found that food concepts are drawing traffic to malls, but not enough at present to offset the loss of sales by clothing retailers, particularly department stores. The percentage of respondents who said they visited a mall to eat rose from four percent last year to seven percent at present. Those who go to the mall to shop at department stores fell from 25 percent to 20 percent.
UBS’s findings are somewhat out of synch with previous research that showed food offerings support traditional retail stores in malls. A report from Jones Lang LaSalle found that shoppers who eat at the mall spend an average of 35 extra minutes browsing stores compared to those who do not eat on their trips.
Research by WD Partners found that a number of food concepts including farmers markets, food halls and grocery stores are likely to influence the frequency of consumer visits to malls.
Seventy-seven percent of digital natives (age 18 to 29) said a farmers market would influence their decision to visit a mall compared to 75 percent for digital immigrants (age 46 and older). Food halls scored 78 percent for digital natives and 61 percent for digital immigrants. Grocery stores were seen as a draw by 61 percent of younger consumers versus 55 percent of older ones.
- More people are going to the mall to eat at the food court, not shop, UBS says – CNBC
- Can food halls become retail’s new anchors? – RetailWire
- Will foodie culture save the mall? – RetailWire
- Have U.S. malls lost their sense of community? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can landlords and retailers deal with the exodus of apparel shopping to online stores from mall-based stores? Do you see food concepts as an important response to this challenge?