What’s next for shopping centres?

Retail has always been the very foundation of shopping centres with entertainment elements creeping into the changing landscape only to support the retail offer. Fast forward a few years and the balance has tipped completely. Department store anchors have dwindled as cinemas, bowling alleys and entertainment giants like Merlin (Owners of Legoland, Legoland Discovery Centres and Sea Life Aquariums), Namco and Kidzania have moved in. Retail-tainment is now commonplace in the marketing vernacular.

It is well-documented that consumers are happier spending more money on experiences than they are spending on things. Shopping centres have responded by transforming into experiential hubs offering the opportunity for collective experiences, a place to enjoy the stuff you can’t do online. When they get it right, they’re an asset to the community and a place people want to visit time and again. A good shopping centre that moves with the times is elevated to a great lifestyle centre.

Global retailers have responded to the experiential economy too; influential next generation brands like Apple and Nike continue to experience accelerated growth in-store because they get it – Experience and customer service are everything! Disney, a pioneer of the in-store experience, holds “we are experience” and “story-telling” at the very core of its retail strategy. Car manufacturers are in on it too. Noticed their sudden appearance in shopping centres? Ford, Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin have all recently opened boutique popups in the traditional retail space simply because it offers those brands a unique platform to further engage with consumers. These stores are not just showrooms, they’re fully immersive events inviting customers to participate in activities that include fitness and cooking classes or, in Ford’s case, the opportunity for consumers to feature in an independent movie sponsored by the manufacturer.

Accommodating these game changers means getting smarter about the retail space in terms of design and management to further support and reinforce the consumer experience.

Retail-tainment, American Style.

It’s exciting to see what’s happening in the US and emerging markets in Asia and the middle east. Triple Five, the company behind mega malls, West Edmonton and Mall of America, have always been ahead of the game. Long before the Internet stole a large percentage of consumer retail spending, West Edmonton Mall has offered such a wide variety of entertainment it can boast an average consumer dwell time of 2.5 days! And, with 40 million annual visitors, Mall of America is the most popular attraction in the US.

Triple Five also own American Dream, currently under construction in New York and New Jersey with plans to develop in Florida.  More than 450 retailers and restaurants make up only 50% of the project with the other half matched by its incredible attractions with brand partners, The Nickelodeon Universe Theme Park, DreamWorks Waterpark (the world’s largest indoor water park), and Big Snow America (providing the first indoor ski and snowboard park in the western hemisphere). American Dream will also offer a Cirque Du Soleil performing arts theatre, Sea Life and Lego Discovery Centres, Kidzania, plus cinemas and golf!

Where do we go from here?

And, what kind of experience would entice you to a shopping centre? Here is a couple of examples of ‘Retail-tainment’ from around the world to spark your imagination.

From Left to Right:

  1. The Fremont Street experience in Las Vegas includes the 500m Slotzilla Zipline. Up to four visitors at a time can scream their way along two zip lines, 7 stories high, at 60km per hour!
  2. Lake Elsinore, an outlet centre in California, offers consumers an outlet of a very different kind with it’s ‘Wreck Room’. Visitors are invited to let off steam by smashing stuff in a controlled environment.
  3. Too lazy to take the stairs? Don’t worry the Printemps Shopping Centre, Shanghai has you covered. You can take the slide, dropping 5 floors down to ground level in just 16 seconds!

It’s all about making retail fun again for families; giving them an opportunity to enjoy unforgettable experiences that tap into real emotions and create memories to last a lifetime.