Blurring the lines between community and shopping

Creating interactive events that attract and involve shoppers can help to make these spaces places for participation and involvement rather than simply shopping destinations.

This may involve looking at alternative uses where possible. These could be libraries, gyms, community hubs, offices or residential. Where these options are either unviable or inappropriate, it may be necessary to explore other ways to repurpose and revitalise malls. Today’s shoppers want instant and frictionless experience or they will vote with their feet.

Blurring the lines between community and shopping provides a holistic approach to the management of shopping centres that makes them more attractive and can increase footfall and dwell time during a challenging period. It’s down to the centre management team to maximise the utility of the space for the benefit of everyone.

One way to make the most of this is to utilise social media. When you create and hold an event you are creating shareable content that can help embed you in the community. Our marketing managers focus on creating events that are fun and interactive and draw shoppers in.

Once they are there, the retail opportunities are evident. Creating a dinosaur trail with quizzes for children is going to be much more attractive than seeing a set of retail units that are lifeless or have gone dark. It leads directly to increased revenues for occupiers and owners.

In the past, showrooming was a big concern. Shoppers browsing the centre would examine items and make a decision on a purchase before popping back home and using the internet to find the best price. You might have got high dwell time but there was no payoff at the end of the day.

What we are seeing now is actually the reverse – people are browsing the internet and then visiting their local shopping centre for availability. It’s important to remember that we are social beings – we don’t like being isolated in front of a screen all the time. We need to socialise.

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