Shopping malls’ importance to the economy are often underestimated during the current period of flux in the retail industry.Despite all of the doom and gloom presented in a typical story about the shopping mall industry, the fact remains that they’re still standing. Evolution is the prevailing theme throughout the industry, and that can take on many different forms. For poor performing properties, that can mean extinction. For still viable ones, that can mean a simple facelift or slight reimagining of things. For others, that can mean extensive redevelopment. In short, evolution is prevalent, but that shouldn’t be mistaken for an entire segment of real estate just withering away.
Those in the know in the industry are well aware of this fact, and they’re using this theme of ‘malls are dying’ to their advantage, and likely slightly chuckling to themselves. However, as Financial Post reports, International Council of Shopping Centres president and chief executive officer Tom McGee recently explained that evolution is here to stay - at least for a little while.
“Malls, whether they are situated in the U.S. or Canada, are all evolving towards this concept of experience. Consumers expect a high level of differentiation (within malls) and varied experiences. That is why you see more food and beverage options, more movie theatres and lots of new and different types of retailers coming into the mall experience,” McGee said.
That sentiment is shared by other industry experts, but they caution that it’s also wise to have an overall game plan in mind, and not just evolve for the sake of evolving.
“Now perhaps there is too much of a selection in retail. It can be overwhelming to go somewhere with such a broad selection of clothing, for example. And as selection has increased, I think some people have had a desire to decrease it. Curating saves time, it saves people mental energy and if you have a certain style or aesthetic in mind you can probably find more of a selection of that look in (a small store) than you can in a big department store,” shared Craig Patterson, director of applied research at the University of Alberta’s School of Retailing.
That’s some valuable food for thought from two of the industry’s top minds, and advice that proactive landlords and property managers should take to heart.