Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Malls in American Begin Transforming


Gemstone and sterling silver bangle

As the economy continues to evolve, malls across American have shifted gears in order to keep space occupied. According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, malls are moving to non-retail tenants to fill vacancies.[1] This includes such unconventional businesses as fencing academies, indoor trampoline facilities and even gun ranges. While some existing tenants of nearby unusual mall tenants may not always be pleased, some are figuring that a little weird foot traffic is better than none. Let’s face it; an empty storefront draws no visitors. The new economy is really transforming the way retail and other businesses are conducting business.

This is good news and bad news. Malls which were once the haven of retail drew visitors who wanted to shop. After all, malls were filled with retail stores so if you couldn’t find it at a local mall, it probably didn’t exist. Now that unconventional non-retail stores are beginning to open across American, there will be a different type of customer, one who comes to do something other than shop. The good news is increased foot traffic. People walking through the mall to get to where they are going will have to pass other storefronts and may see something they need. The bad news is people who come to the mall just for their specific activity.

 Working on displays in my office, need to put out more rings

I hate to say it but I usually go to the mall and hit the specific store I intended. I do very little browsing or shopping around. I usually go to the mall, or any store, with what I need in mind and then buy it. This is partly because I don’t have a lot of time. I also hate to fight the crowds at my local mall, and in fact all my local stores seem to be packed with endless supplies of shoppers. You would think that retail is booming in my area and there would be no need for unconventional non-retail stores, but no, there are openings of trampoline facilities and rock climbing walls. I admit that these facilities are not yet located directly in the local mall. Yet according to CoStar Group Inc., a real estate research company, entertainment themed tenants expanded their square footage in U.S. shopping centers by 2.25% since 2009. In this same period retail stores reduced their square footage by 1%.[2]

Does this spell the end of retail in malls? I don’t think so; retail is still the backbone of any mall or shopping center. The centralized location of various stores and restaurants brings consumers who are looking for one stop shopping. There is also still a need for the “buy it now” consumer. These are husbands who forgot anniversaries, birthdays or as budgets tighten the last minute shopper. With the holidays right around the corner, there will be the inevitable rush that retailers wait all year for, hopefully it will be a good one.

 Doubling up necklaces, amber always looks good


[1] Kris Hudson and Miguel Bustillo, New Tricks for Old Malls: Goodbye to Circuit City and Old Navys; Hello, Gun Ranges, Aquariums, Go-Carts, The Wall Street Journal, October 26th 2011, Section B1.
[2] Kris Hudson and Miguel Bustillo, New Tricks for Old Malls: Goodbye to Circuit City and Old Navys; Hello, Gun Ranges, Aquariums, Go-Carts, The Wall Street Journal, October 26th 2011, Section B1.

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