The traditional mall shopping experience as you know it is changing. Due to the rise of online shopping many malls suffered and were forced to close. Consumers expect more, wanting not just to shop but also to have a unique experience. Those who strive to provide are offering exclusive shopping, high end entertainment and haute cuisine instead of the traditional food court packed with fast food options.
Some are likening the new mall experience as a playground or theme park to meet all the consumers sensory needs. A prime example of this is the Cirque de Soleil announcing its partnership with real estate company Ivanhoé Cambridge to open family entertainment centres in malls across Canada, the first opening in Toronto towards the end of 2019. The indoor activity areas will include circus inspired activities such as wires, trampolines, dance and juggling.
To make the best use the best use of all their space, malls are also now extending their offerings to include co-working spaces. In Mississauga, the Mindshare Workspace is a 4,000 square feet flexible workspace for startups and local businesses. A developer approached the Mindspace founder and there are plans to create more workspaces in other malls across Canada.
With the new mall experience you can literally work, shop and play in the one place. When it comes to shopping, millennials represents a huge target market making up approximately 26 percent of the Canadian population or about 9 million people. Their shopping journey is very technology based. Online shopping is part of this but so is their decision to buy products based on social media hype or popularity. Malls can leverage this by offering pop up spaces that provide the products trending on social media.
Pop ups enable the mall to generate excitement with consistently new offerings instead of having companies locked into leases. With the right offerings, tactics like this can lead to long lines of consumers, eagerly waiting to purchase. At Toronto’s Yorkdale centre, they created CONCEPT, a dedicated 3600 sq feet multi tenant space for pop ups.
Shopping is one aspect but the opportunities to keep people in the mall to continue socialising when they are finished shopping also need to be tapped into. Food courts used to offer run of the mill fast food offerings but as consumer become more health conscious and palettes have become more diverse and demanding. In response more sit down dining and upscale options are being introduced.
Extending entertainment options is a sure fire way to make the mall an after shopping hours location to socialise with friends. A prime example of this in Canada is The Rec Room, that opened one of its locations at the West Edmonton Mall. Marketed as “Eats and Entertainment”, it offers exactly that with a wide range of activities including, gaming, gambling and even bowling. Sports enthusiasts can come and watch sports on big screens and a program of live concerts and comedy is also on the menu.
Coupled with Canadian inspired food from brunch to dinner options they aim to cater to every taste and age group from family outings to after work drinks and weekend late nights. There are currently five Rec Room locations in Alberta and Ontario with plans to open 15 across Canada. As the mall experience continues to evolve, they are fast becoming a one stop playground with every consumer need under one roof.
By Philippa Brangam