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Malls Adapt As Consumer Expectations Evolve

Posted On: 6/25/2013

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TAGS: bulk vending, vending machine locations, amusement machine, Glimcher Realty Trust, Glimcher Retail Monitor, shopping mall study, shopping mall economy, Michael P. Glimcher, European mall trends, C&T Marketing Group, Dr. Marianne Bickle, University of South Carolina's Department of Retailing, entertainment destination

COLUMBUS, OH -- A new survey by a leading shopping mall developer could offer some good news for bulk vending and amusement operators. According to Glimcher Realty Trust and its recently launched Glimcher Retail Monitor, the traditional shopping mall is far from dead. Although battered by the rough economy and online shopping options, consumers continue to shop at malls across the country.

The survey indicated shopping malls have increasingly become a social experience. According to the survey, 81% of Americans shop with someone. Despite today's fast-paced culture, the study suggests, people are willing to drive up to 30 minutes to get to the mall and stay there from one to five hours, on a monthly basis.

Additionally, the mall continues to be the central gathering place in almost every community. Farmer's markets and live music were among the top events shoppers would like to see on a more regular basis, followed by community events and classes. Some 52% of the people surveyed said if stores offered more experiences like yoga classes, cooking demos or workshops, they would visit the mall more frequently.

"The way consumers enjoy the mall has changed. Today, the mall is a destination, offering more than just retail," said Glimcher chairman and chief executive Michael P. Glimcher. "While shopping will always be the primary reason people go to the mall, the survey supported our notion that going to the mall is about the experiences -- whether that's having a salad and a glass of wine with your girlfriends or enjoying a movie on a Friday night. People want a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment."

The results of the survey somewhat reflect the strategy European mall management companies have adopted to battle the trend of online shoppers by wooing new categories of tenants that include dentists, day spas and branch offices of government -- places that people either need to or want to visit in person.

The survey was conducted by C&T Marketing Group on behalf of Glimcher Realty Trust and included 3,344 adults ages 18 and up. An expert on retail and consumer behavior, Dr. Marianne Bickle, director of the University of South Carolina's Department of Retailing, consulted on the project.

"The Glimcher Retail Monitor survey findings show consumers seek an all-around shopping experience. From the moment they enter the mall, consumers begin to enjoy the tactile experiences, ambiance of the environment and aromas of the stores and restaurants," Bickle said. "Malls of the 21st century should provide a balance of entertainment and shopping experiences. As our study demonstrates, the components required to bring in foot traffic include planned entertainment, communication, variety and commitment."

Whether these changes will require bulk vending and amusement operators to rethink their mall strategies has yet to be seen. However, if the trend toward "destination malls" continues, the transformation of shopping malls into more social destinations could provide additional opportunities for a wider range of equipment types.

Glimcher Realty Trust owns material interests in and manages 29 properties with a total gross leasable area of about 21.6 million square feet.