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HOME SWEET…MALL?

As a child in the ‘60’s, a big shopping excursion on Saturday with my mom was going to downtown Canton or Wooster. By the ‘70’s, the model changed as suburban malls sprang up with ample parking, the best stores and comfortable, convenient environments. Westfield Belden Village in Canton was the largest indoor mall in the world when it opened in July 1969. The Mall of America – still the largest US mall – opened in 1992, perhaps the apex of the traditional mall.
Twenty-plus years later, many US malls struggle. Occupancy rates average only 92%, some malls have been shuttered altogether and rents are around 2006 levels. Coincidentally, the last time a new one opened in the US was also in 2006. Instead, we’ve seen the rise of “lifestyle centers,” e.g., Easton in Columbus, OH, which combine shopping with fine dining, entertainment and high-end apartments.
As online retail grows exponentially, we have also seen dollar stores, “power centers”, outlet malls and other formats arise and thrive.
Retail remains a rapidly-evolving, exciting and inviting world for shoppers and brands alike. Meeting the timeless needs of people to (1) physically interact with products for potential purchase, (2) gain insights from knowledgeable sales staff, (3) interact with friends as they weigh their options and (4) enjoy the instant gratification of finding, buying and taking purchases home on the spot makes the world of displays, fixtures and retail planning a great challenge worth doing well.