How to save today’s mall
EVP, Thought Leadership & Marketing, WD Partners; and Barrie Scardina, Head of Retail for the Americas, Cushman & Wakefield
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from WayfinD, a quarterly e-magazine filled with insights, trends and predictions from the retail and foodservice experts at WD Partners.
New food ideas and health & wellness both rank highest as concepts that would increase consumers’ visits to the mall, according to an ongoing study from Cushman & Wakefield and WD Partners.
The idea of new food concepts for malls was the winner two years in a row. Consumers didn’t just mention restaurants, they also cited interest in grocery, farmer’s markets and curated food halls, which are not like the existing quick service food models. Food brings us together. It is an important point of engagement, offers memorable moments and can be the cornerstone of a community. Food also drives traffic and extends mall foot traffic beyond the conventional store hours. Over 60 percent of those surveyed focused on this amenity.
Health & wellness came in a strong second two years in a row, with 43 percent surveyed leaning towards wellness and 36 percent towards fitness. Consumers continue to see tremendous value in staying well and physically fit. These concepts include the obvious walk-in medical clinics and gyms, to brands that sell fitness equipment and apparel.
New concepts and experiences were third, with 35 percent of consumers looking for new concepts, experiential retail and co-working spaces. These include pop-up shops, ax throwing bars and gaming arenas. Some of these concepts are new additions to the survey, illustrating how retail is evolving and focusing on consumer engagement.
Also emerging as an important trend were convenience factors like Buy Online Pick-Up in Store (BOPIS) and Curbside Pick-Up. Consumers also indicated that “green space” would be an important part of engagement. These trends are not surprising, given the pandemic’s impact on consumer behaviors and experiences.
When analyzing the data by age, WD Partners reviewed the differences between two key groups — Digital Natives (ages 18- 29) and Digital Immigrants (ages 45-60). We found that food continued to be the biggest draw and that the largest spreads were in the areas of fitness (19 percent spread) and gaming (18 percent spread). All age groups were focused on safety and wellness, as well as co-working spaces. Digital Immigrants, who grew up in malls, have a greater attachment to the structure and purpose of malls. Digital Natives are looking for a more creative experience overall.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has the pandemic changed what may be necessary to revive traffic at malls in the years ahead? Which concepts should mall landlords be looking to add to reach younger consumers?