The Metamorphosis of Malls

Gone are the days when a person stops by a mall because they have to find a birthday gift. Now, people venture to malls because they want to enjoy an afternoon out — grazing high-end eateries, listening to live music and maybe picking up a new phone case at Apple. The mall is no longer a multi-winged facility with free AC; retail areas are becoming a destination where patrons go to experience local crafts & cuisine, yoga classes and food prep demos.

What Does This Mean for Developers & Owners?

It is time to experiment and accept change. Mixed-use spaces are spearheading CRE development—Millennials desire outdoor spaces, unique retail (have you noticed Macys closing stores countrywide?) and community events like concerts and farmers markets. So, this mixed-use mentality should be applied at the next board meeting for saving your traditional mall. The Millennials, who are now almost 75% of the workforce, expect to “live life to the fullest” and demand high quality products; we will not just consume for the sake of consumption. Developers and owners must acknowledge and react to this in order to continue their success.

Where Do We See This is San Diego?

UTC: University Town Center is currently mid-transformation.

“Experiential” Services Offered

  • Lounge areas throughout that also serve as art installations (i.e. wicker basket/bird’s nest anyone?)
  • Superb food for days (Eureka, Tender Greens, Draft Republic to name a few)
  • Spas, nail & brow bars
  • Monthly events (this month hosts Santa’s Flight Academy & an Orchestra performance)

Fashion Valley: Have you noticed a few of the superstores shutting their doors? They are making room for more interactive “showrooms” like their current Tesla and Lululemon.

“Experiential” Services Offered

  • Car wash/ auto detailing
  • Coat and package check (for FREE!)
  • Mobile device charging stations
  • WiFi

What are your thoughts about “experiential” retail? Do you see this happening at other places in San Diego or in your hometown? What kind of “experiences” are you looking for when you go shopping? Comment below and start a discussion!


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