Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?

Discussion
Rendering: Mall of America, CMX
Jan 19, 2017

Much of the talk at the recently concluded National Retail Federation Big Show in New York was around experiences and the need for stores and the shopping centers where they are located to provide them if they want to draw consistent traffic. The Mall of America, which has been known for offering a variety of attractions, is back at it with news that movie theaters will open in the facility that offer gourmet foods, wines and cocktails.

The mall, which reports that 40 percent of its visitors are tourists, closed movie theaters operated by the facility last month. According to reports, CMX, a division of Mexico’s Cinemex, the sixth largest movie theater chain in the world, is building a new complex in the same space. When complete, it will include 14 rooms with a total of 1,100 seats.

One room will include an extra-large screen with a state-of-the-art sound system. Seats with extra high backs will recline and include storage for purses and shopping bags. In addition to tickets, customers will also be able to place orders for food in advance.

“Our guests will be pleasantly surprised by the CMX cinema — it will exceed all of their expectations,” said Jill Renslow, senior vice president of marketing and business development for Mall of America, in a statement. “We always strive to offer the latest, most innovative concepts to our guests at MOA and CMX is unlike anything currently offered in the market.”

The opening of the new movie theaters represents a continuation of the relationship between CMX and Triple Five Group of Companies, the owner of the Mall of America. The companies are also working together for a suite of theaters in the American Dream facility being built in Bergen County, NJ as part of the Meadowlands Sports Complex.

Other attractions at the Mall of America include the Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium, FlyOverAmerica, Minnesota Children’s Museum, A.C.E.S. Flight Simulation Center, Moose Mountain Adventure Golf and more.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How important is entertainment to the mall experience in 2017? Do retailers understand the importance of experiences in their stores? How do you see this developing within retailing?

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Braintrust
"Malls must try to mimic the experience of shopping and socializing that can be had in an urban and perhaps more sophisticated environment."
"People are looking for new ways to enhance the shopping experience, and this is definitely one way to do it."
"It would be an interesting exercise to throw this challenge to a group of lightening rod young people."

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16 Comments on "Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?"


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Tom Dougherty
Guest

Retailers do not understand entertainment. What one generation views as entertainment the next views as blasé. It’s a fluid dynamic.

These movie theaters will attract visitors to the mall.

But it won’t translate into retail customers. Why? Because retailers cant get out of their own way and are busy defending the practices that defend their current model. They look for others to fix a problem that belongs squarely in the retail C-suite.

Retailers want external fixes. No one wants to look at the real problem — malls and department stores are no longer relevant. Retail needs more drastic changes than window dressing.

Zel Bianco
BrainTrust

Like I said in yesterday’s comments, malls must try to mimic the experience of shopping and socializing that can be had in an urban and perhaps more sophisticated environment. Music, movies, food and cafes will make the experience more appealing to most. If mall operators do not push for more of this, they have themselves to blame as a mall without things to do other than shop will be boring and, God forbid, look and feel like their parents’ mall!

Meaghan Brophy
BrainTrust
Meaghan Brophy
Senior Retail Writer
5 years 3 months ago

I don’t see entertainment and retail really feeding off of each other in the way we hope. They are separate destinations that, other than physically being in the same space, don’t really interact with each other. If anything, food courts and mall restaurants serve as the connectors between shopping and entertainment.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

The mall experience is slowly perishing because this model is clearly outdated. The rise of the online experience, soon to be enhanced by VR, makes the mall experience out-moded, out-dated and in continual decline. Consumers don’t want to fight traffic, parking and walking around massive malls with big bags of stuff when they can enjoy the experience with their friends, from the comfort of their home, and easily experience a faster, more robust shopping experience online, all delivered to them at no risk!

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
5 years 3 months ago

We’ve had years of being told that retailers needed to be entertaining. But I think that literal interpretation is a misdirection. Retailers need to make the experience of shopping in their stores more valuable. But entertainment isn’t the way to do it. Better product mixes, better merchandise and better advertising that offers meaningful reasons to be in the store — those are key.

But what about this idea? Habituating people to be at the mall more often with good reasons to be there is smart. And it will increase revenues across that mall. So fundamentally I think it is a good idea. Still, we shouldn’t get carried away by thinking entertainment is literally the solution to all retail problems.

Max Goldberg
Guest

Entertainment is important to the mall experience. Yet too many retailers have trouble keeping their stores properly stocked and having knowledgeable, helpful salespeople on hand. It costs money to provide an entertaining environment, and many retailers are operating on tight budgets. Retailers need to strike a balance — take care of basic store needs and customer expectations and do it in an environment that makes it worthwhile for consumers to venture out, away from their machines.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Canada’s Cineplex movie chain has been a pioneer in the VIP movie experience, which offers the icing on the cake for a mall visit. The premium experience sets a tone for shopping and typically allows lots of time pre- and post-show for browsing and buying. On a recent visit I even overheard the term “staycation” used by other patrons. This affordable luxury has lots of growth potential.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
In my area I can already go to any number of theaters with reserved fully-reclining seats. Some of them already feature on-site meals and drinks. So … why would I go to a mall to replicate what I’ve been able to do for years? It’s a rhetorical question aimed, in part, at deconstructing the question of the importance of entertainment. If I think of food and wine and movies as entertainment — been there done that. I think malls will have to develop more differentiated offerings if they plan on entertaining. But is that the right strategy? Many local movie houses are shutting down because they just aren’t profitable enough, so don’t malls need to really take entertainment to another, more profitable, level? Several years ago I did extensive research on the question of entertainment and retail. It was at the time that Pine and Gilmore’s book on the experience economy was all the rage. Tens of thousands of quantitative and qualitative interviews later we found there was a market for retail-based entertainment — the… Read more »
Ralph Jacobson
Guest

“Experience” is the final true differentiator for malls, and retailers in general. I see these high-end theaters doing well to create compelling reasons to spend more time in malls. I also see these venues in different types of malls, including outdoor/strip centers, as well as indoor malls. People are looking for new ways to enhance the shopping experience, and this is definitely one way to do it.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Reclining seats already exist at many theatres and many have the option of ordering food. While the idea of food is attractive, the implementation can be problematic — people walking around delivering food during the movie, noises from paper or spills. Regardless of whether this is a new concept, the question is whether adding this facility will increase shopping at the mall. After a couple of hours in a movie, what is the incentive for staying at the mall? Getting some food? Oh, they already ate. Shopping? What about seeing a movie stimulates the desire to go shopping? I do not see a positive relationship between this movie-going experience and shopping.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest

Malls need to do something to bring people in and make them a destination rather than a shop-and-go place. Cinemark and other theater groups are testing putting bars in certain locations to draw more people. They also had at least one location that had a fine restaurant. You could eat and go to the movie in comfort. I don’t know what happened or if they are carrying the concept further. Malls and retailers are followers. What works for one will be followed by others.

James Tenser
BrainTrust

Luxury “screening-room” movie theaters are certainly finding a market. One company, called RoadHouse Cinemas, has been offering pleasant dine-in movie experiences for several years at several locations here in Arizona.

These may draw destination traffic, but I’m skeptical that they do much to generate shopping at adjacent stores. The RoadHouse location I’m familiar with is located in a fairly nice strip center. After an evening showing, most of the stores are already closed. So much for retail synergies.

This discussion does put a sharp point on the challenges faced by large enclosed shopping malls, however. With anchor stores closing and a general excess of square footage, it’s not surprising to hear of mall operators looking for new experiences to attract visitors and keep the space productive.

The trouble with turning malls into indoor amusement parks is that those attractions may compete for share of wallet versus other tenants who have stuff to sell.

Laura Davis-Taylor
BrainTrust
Laura Davis-Taylor
Founder, Branded Ground
5 years 3 months ago
It’s hard to answer this without self referencing … but the ongoing question of how we’re going to save malls is certainly a big one. Most responses are united in the idea that they have to transform themselves from a strict buying experience to larger experiences — which is why this works. I live in a major metro area and don’t go to malls anymore. Unless, that is, to see a movie. While I’m there enjoying an “enhanced” movie experience, we always go to Johnny Rockets and we always hit our two favorite stores. Again, the only thing that gets me to that mall is the movie theatre. It would be an interesting exercise to throw this challenge to a group of lightening rod young people. “Hey guys, we’re going to give you your local mall to do whatever you want with it. Don’t limit your thinking to just going there to buy stuff. How would you want to experience it differently? Doing what? How could it serve a more elevated role in your city?”… Read more »
Brian Numainville
BrainTrust

While this could be a winning approach to get more people to the mall (because they want to go to the movies), I am doubtful that this will boost retail spending in the mall. While enhanced entertainment and new offerings might make the mall more interesting or engaging IF someone is looking for those specific things, it doesn’t mean that people will shop at the retailers located there more or most often.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

Actually what malls need is to attract traffic … of people who will buy things. I’m not sure a crowd getting out of a movie at 9, 10, or even 11 o’clock — i.e. when all the in-line stores have closed — advances that goal.

Many malls are actually doing well, although you wouldn’t know it from the unending gloom being voiced, and will continue to do so, even without gimmicks (or perhaps, because of no gimmicks). Many are lost causes, regardless. The ones in the middle, could they be pushed into the “winners” column with a novel attraction? Perhaps, but it has to be done right … and few locations can afford an aquarium or roller coaster. Lack of resources is often why they are struggling in the first place.

Sky Rota
Guest
5 years 3 months ago

In my opinion, no. After you shop, your parents or who ever brought you to the mall are too tired to go to the movies. One thing has nothing to do with the other. We go to the movies, which just happens to be connected to the mall.

I go to the movies 2 Friday nights a month. I have never entered the mall or bought one thing. Yes, this new movie complex will do absolutely fantastic!

We love these new movie theater experiences. The reserved reclining seating is the best and we can’t wait to have dinner and a movie option. We are always hungry so it would be nice to have good food, not just junk food at the movies. Sorry to say, but it won’t make us want to shop any more than we did before.

Oh, and we definitely aren’t going to the mall after we watch a movie. We are going home.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Malls must try to mimic the experience of shopping and socializing that can be had in an urban and perhaps more sophisticated environment."
"People are looking for new ways to enhance the shopping experience, and this is definitely one way to do it."
"It would be an interesting exercise to throw this challenge to a group of lightening rod young people."

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