In a time when online shopping provides consumers with ultimate levels of convenience, malls must redefine their value proposition and create new experiences that will drive traffic. Historically, malls have served as the hub of a community, bringing people together for shopping and entertainment, while also generating tax revenue to support schools, health care services and police and fire departments. However, as retail vacancies climb and iconic stores close, mall owners need to find a way to reimagine their offerings to attract consumers.
Many malls have repositioned themselves as more than real estate brokers, embracing a retail experience to meet the needs of their communities. In addition to anchor tenants, savvy developers are refocusing on the “C” in mall – Culture. Consumers want to gather with their communities in spaces that inspire and engage them. In a recent survey conducted by WD Partners, food was cited as the top priority, with 60% of respondents reporting interest in grocery stores, farmer’s markets, curated food courts, and quick service restaurants.
A growing number of malls are incorporating natural ambiance into their design, including plants and trees, wood walls and floors, waterfalls, and plenty of glass to bring in light. Others are implementing technology upgrades that allow them to better integrate with the surrounding communities, like providing robust free WiFi and charging stations for mobile devices.
Lastly, many innovative malls are custom-curating their tenant mix to reflect the unique preferences of their local market. This includes leveraging the growth of digital-native brands with narrowly curated assortments to complement the existing mix and provide a sense of discovery for shoppers.