By Glenn Brill, firstname.lastname@example.org
The recent announcement that Ron Johnson of Apple will become J. C. Penny’s new chief executive is a clear indication of the need for many retailers to revitalize the shopping experience. It is also a clarion call and symbolic of the challenge to mall owners, developers, and investors to create and/or revitalize shopping environments that can effectively complement and promote a retailer’s brand.
The rapid growth of online sales has demonstrated that the shopping experience itself has become a commodity that is valued in part for convenience and economy. The mail-order catalogue has been enhanced as an interactive experience, while the rising cost of gasoline, reduced or no sale taxes on out-of-state purchases and free shipping on threshold sales amounts have opened a floodgate for rising online sales. No doubt, as a retailer’s percentage of online sales continues to grow, greater demands will be placed on store margins and corresponding site selection strategies will focus on top-tier locations to meet those demands.
Today’s consumers are in a cautious mood while they try to decide if the glass is half empty or half full. Under these circumstances, call it a consumer hang-over, what will it take to get consumers, and for that matter tenants, back to the mall? While “virtual living” has its moments, malls offer the opportunity to provide real social and civic engagement. In this respect, if malls replaced “Main Street”, what will replace the mall?
As primary tenant demand has shifted to mini and junior boxes, their good credit and requirements are driving the design of the next generation of retail development. Many proposed lifestyle projects are being redesigned as an all-in-one hybrid mix of a community center, power center and fashion mall as operators seek to expand the length of the shopping day, increase repeat visits and offer retailers greater exposure to consumers earlier in the week. “Town Center” planning concepts enable developers to segment the offering and define varying shopping environments to meet the needs of particular retail segments as part of a larger mixed-use environment. While “inspirational” shoppers may be in shorter supply, tenants seek qua