The future of the American mall


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Almost 1,700 stores inside malls closed in 2018, according to Bank of America, and so far this year, closings have reached more than 4,000.

But one company believes it has found a way to reverse the trend. The enormous American Dream mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will have a lot more than just stories behind its walls when it fully opens next year. Nikki Battiste reports.

What is experiential retail, and how can it help malls?

The American mall has long been a staple of American culture, offering consumers a one-stop destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment. However, with the rise of e-commerce and changing consumer habits, the future of the American mall is uncertain.

In recent years, we have seen a decline in mall traffic, leading to numerous store closures and bankruptcies. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this trend, with many malls temporarily shutting down or permanently closing due to reduced foot traffic and financial difficulties.

Despite these challenges, there are still opportunities for the American mall to thrive in the future. One potential area of growth is in experiential retail, which focuses on creating immersive and interactive experiences for consumers. This can include pop-up shops, virtual reality installations, and even in-mall fitness studios and co-working spaces. By offering unique experiences and events, malls can draw in consumers who are looking for more than just traditional retail options.

Another potential area of growth is in alternative uses for empty mall spaces. With the increase in remote work and online shopping, there is a growing demand for last-mile delivery hubs and micro-fulfillment centers. Malls could repurpose empty stores as distribution centers, which would benefit retailers by allowing for faster and more efficient delivery to consumers.

Smart technology also has the potential to transform the American mall. Advances in technology such as artificial intelligence and machine learning can help malls customize the shopping experience for individual customers. Smart sensors and beacons can track shoppers’ movements and preferences, allowing retailers to offer personalized recommendations and targeted marketing campaigns.

However, to fully capitalize on these opportunities, malls will need to adapt and evolve. This may include updating their physical spaces to accommodate new uses and technologies. Malls will also need to prioritize customer safety and hygiene, which has become a top concern for consumers during the pandemic.

In conclusion, the future of the American mall is uncertain, but there are still opportunities for growth and innovation. By embracing experiential retail, repurposing empty spaces, and leveraging smart technology, malls can remain relevant and competitive in the years to come. However, it will require a willingness to adapt and evolve in response to changing consumer habits and preferences.

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