It doesn’t seem that long ago when shopping malls were the hub of consumer activity. As time went on, they got bigger and bigger, offering all manner of stores and allowing people to get a great deal of their shopping done in one place. You could shop, get something to eat, see a movie, and then do some more shopping on your way out.
Every city and many small towns added shopping malls, but their dominance has slipped in recent years. Online shopping has created major changes in the way that people buy their goods. It’s hard to argue with the thought of being able to sit at home in front of your computer ordering things that you would previously have driven across town (or further) to get. Amazon is the online shopping giant and if one had to put a name to the enemy of shopping mall prosperity, it’s as good as any.
So, is the demise of the mall inevitable? Not as far as mall owners are concerned. They are trying to come up with reasons and experiences that will justify getting people off their couches. These include entertainment options that allow parents and children to spend time together, as well as ways for mom and dad to have someone watch the kids so they can do some quiet, relaxed shopping together.
Instead of just a collection of fast food options at the food court, some malls are courting high end restaurants as a way of restoring the mall’s image as a respected place in the community, rather than a spot for teens to hang out.
While anchor stores are still seen as a key way of luring people in, the plan is also to provide a more diverse selection of tenants not typically found in shopping malls. These include specialized businesses that one often has to journey downtown to patronize.
Malls are also making greater use of social media as a way of engaging with customers and creating loyalty. This inspires people to make the mall the first place that comes to mind when they need something.
Online shopping may be an unstoppable juggernaut at this point, but these tactics do seem to be having an effect at slowing things down a little. Time will tell, but I can’t see malls ever dying off completely.