Future mall: preparing for the shopping centres of tomorrow

The rise in online shopping has changed not just where but how we shop. While the upheaval caused by these trends might worry retail investors and workers, it actually represents a fantastic opportunity to map out a future mall that serves the needs of buyers and sellers alike – here’s how.

Hamburg - We've explored the latest retail trends to assess what the mall of the future will be.

Catering for convenience

One of the biggest lessons analysts appear to have drawn from the situation in Europe is that shopping centres in urban areas are outperforming those in rural locations, which mainly has to do with the higher population density. But also because many of the future malls are adapting to become multifunctional social spaces too. The better the offer of restaurants, cinemas, bars and other leisure opportunities, the more visitors are attracted by the malls.

An experience with retail, not a retail experience

Shopping malls have the capacity to do more than simply provide immediate gratification for consumer desires. And they will have to if they’re going to succeed in the future. Research suggests that more and more people prefer to spend money on experiences, rather than goods. 

Statement shopping centres have been epitomised by Dubai with the Mall of the Emirates, which boasts a ski slope, and Dubai Mall, with its fountains and enormous aquarium – they more than meet the desire for a unique experience while still providing a successful retail environment. It’s no coincidence that tourism is driving mall growth in Dubai, so we can expect any future malls to follow suit and consider how to ensure visitors have a memorable time.

More than stockists’ showrooms

When it comes to the stores themselves, it might be tempting to see them as a showroom. A place where customers can get a feel for objects that can’t be achieved from online shopping. However, to view the two as separate would be a mistake.

Future shopping malls have to consider the extent to which the in-person experience is already blending with online stores and tools. Nearly 60% of US shoppers look up product information and pricing on their phones while they’re shopping in a real world retail environment. Blurring the lines between online and in-person shopping is central to our shopping process. Augmented reality (AR) has the potential to make this experience even richer, while the growing pool of data AR provides can improve logistics and make the future of shopping malls much more immediate and efficient.

Warehouse hedging

Many high street and shopping centre spaces are also hedging their bets by moving gently into the territory of warehouses and distribution. In the UK, for example, Argos have supplemented the income from their store network by becoming a hub for ‘Click and Collect’ orders, a service that allows eBay shoppers to save on delivery costs for online purchases by collecting them from their local Argos store. Diversifying their offering has helped Argos grow and remain relevant on the high street.

These kind of innovative crossovers and collaborations are likely to continue and evolve, creating new and exciting future malls. If you want to keep track of them, and other developments in the property world, visit our property insights blog.

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