Forget Teens, Malls want to be hangouts for Adults

By Eric Wolff
North County Times

Shopping malls want to be Starbucks

In the same way that
coffee shops transcended the idea of selling caffeinated beverages to
become community hubs, malls want to transcend shopping and become the
place where everyone – and not just teenagers – come to meet, socialize,
or get some work done. Five San Diego County malls recently unveiled
multimillion dollar renovations that introduced new, socially oriented
seating arrangements, upgraded food courts and dining options, and free
Wi-Fi – all intended to make malls a destination place to spend
non-shopping time. Mall owners hope a rising tide of new amenities,
along with a busy schedule of events, will lift all tenants.

“If
we enrich their lives, they're going to come back to us and shop with
us,”
said Steve Dumas, senior vice president of design for Westfield
USA.

Malls have been under pressure along with the rest of retail
when sales plummeted during the recession and subsequent sluggish
recovery. After hitting a sales peak of $416.20 per leased square foot
in 2007, sales fell 12 percent to $365.39 in 2009, according to the
International Council of Shopping Centers, an industry nonprofit.
Compounding matters, the national vacancy rate for super regional malls –
malls with 800,000 square feet or more, including Fashion Valley and
Westfield UTC – jumped from 6.7 percent in 2006 to 10.6 percent in 2009.…Read the complete article

NY Deal Making 2018