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The Future of Shopping Malls

April 25, 2011 - 2 Comments

 Recently my colleague Jon Stine, wrote on his blog In between the numbers – Big Changes for Stores about amount of retail square footage that is available today and the need for stores to evolve with changing consumer patterns.

This change is also reflected in shopping malls that needs to change to make the destination attractive to shoppers and for retail store operators.  In a recent trip to the local shopping mall in San Bruno, California, I noticed how the retail shopping mall has changed in the last few years to adopt to the new shopping trends.


Some of the changes include:

  • Mixture of services and store formats in the main mall aisles
  • Use of vending machines to dispense higher end products such as cosmetics and electronics
  • Integration of digital video inside the store and at the display window to draw traffic/interest
  • Store exclusive offerings from personal appearances to store only merchandise that is not available online
  • More services offering in the mall from child care to education and entertainment.

I was able to take some pictures during my visit to highlight the changes.

Malls are more than retail stores, services are now a permanant fixture in malls.  From salon service to childrens playground, malls are adding variety of offerings such as childrens playground to incent families to visit.

Traditionally vending machines in malls are for soda and candy.  With newer technologies vending machines can be used to sell higher end items from cosmetics to consumer electronics in spaces too small for traditional stores.

Best Buy small format store

Traditionally malls are laid out with anchor stores on the corner like movie theaters, big box and they are connected via the mall in halls with smaller store formats along a corridor.  Food service/restaurants are usually in a separate food court section.  We are seeing mixtures of store formats including food items in the main corrdiro and traditional “big box” retailers opening smaller format stores.

What other changes have you noticed in the shopping malls?  What tips your decision to go shopping versus buying online?

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  1. I would say a lot of people buy online depending on the category. According to Forrester resarch by 2014 Online retailing will be 250 Billion in US, that’s only 8% of overall retail sales in US.

    Agreed that malls and shops’ competition is online, especially when consumers today can buy a lot of items with visibility to availability at the time they buy. We can see out of stock status for online shopping, but not easily as well when we make a trip to the store. Shops and malls need to be find areas to drive experience and service that is beyond the product gratification and integrate e-commerce experiences to the store going forward.

  2. the biggest change i have noticed in shopping malls is the lack of people (customers/shoppers) inside of them.

    Most people buy online these days. Stores need to give incentives for people to leave their house and spend money at their store.

    If i can buy something from my home, without wasting gas in my car, i am doing it.

    just my opinion 🙂