This trend was accentuated in May with the announcement by Sears that it would shutting down 500 outlets. A renowned anchor store tenant, the chain's demise reflects that turbulent environment for shopping malls that just revamp their approach to survive.
The market for shopping centers has changed markedly in the last few years, but only now are people starting to notice, said Matt Bear, an official with the CBRE commercial real estate group, based at Las Vegas.
Shopping center ownership has to spend more effort creating a coherent merchandising mix, Bear said. This means getting rid of stores that din't fit the mall's projected image along with adding entertainment venues to the mix. It might be painful in some cases, but has to be done, he said.
While retail has been doing well in Las Vegas, local retail also is affected by general national retail market trends. Projects have to be diverse yet focused to be successful. For example, the Linq open-air mall outlet operated by Caruso Affiliated of Los Angeles has become a social hub along with a retail mall.
People want social gathering points with great ambiance, said Rick Caruso, founder and chief executive officer of Caruso Affiliated. This means they're able to go to a mall, have a great meal together, go to an entertainment event, and shop, all in a human-scale space. The new mall can add value on top of traditional shopping in the form of providing a great total experience, he said.
Caruso called on malls to embrace the challenge of online shopping. E-commerce is here to stay, he said, but this doesn't mean customers will forsake the mortar-and-brick shopping experience. People still want to see and experience the products. Malls can be destination places for people to engage in a mix of experiences, he said.
Fashion Show mall in Las Vegas stages professional fashion shows to attract attention and interest. People can see the merchandise on runways before buying. The mall has seen 45 stores open in 2013 and 2014 with outlets like the Disney Store, Halston Heritage, the Lego Store, and Dynamite.
The future of retail looks good, everybody agreed. People always will want to have a concrete place at which to shop. It's just a matter of adding value in terms of excitement and experience, experts agree.