The concept of a shopping mall started in the United States. And that seems to be the first place they are perishing. The landscape of America is dotted with deserted malls, some in shambles, and places that are less than half of their former selves.
The mall has become a worldwide phenomenon. They can be found in China, Europe, Dubai; everywhere. Why do some thrive in this world, and what can save the mall experience? While some are closing, or at the very least losing tenants, successful malls are growing larger and larger. A way to help customers navigate these large spaces is to compartmentalize by category. For instance, have a whole floor dedicated to clothing, or a whole floor or area dedicated to toys, hobbies, and books or to home goods.
Flexibility is another way to change the mall experience and make it more shoppable. This can be kiosks, special shows, trunk shows, pop-up stores, showroom spaces. One mall in New Jersey tried incorporating a chapel and a performance art space. Unfortunately, that did not succeed.
Westfield Group is an extremely large real estate company that owns malls. Peter Lowy is the Executive Director of Westfield Group. He says that the mall has to “become a hero”. He knew one of the frustrations was parking. So, “We installed red and green bulbs over every parking stall so people can instantly see where a space is available that cut down their time in the garage by eighty percent.” Peter Lowy says that “being a hero means giving the audience an experience that exceeds their expectations.” Customers will tell the story of their experience at Westfield Malls and bring in other purchasers.
Making high-end customers feel special and unique is another way malls are differentiating themselves. In Dubai, there is a mall that has a separate entrance and parking lot for a part of the mall that contains decidedly elite fashion retailers.
The very look of malls is changing and that seems to be successful. Large windows, transparent domes, green areas, and more seating areas are being incorporated. That is attracting people.