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The Reinvention of the American Mall  

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
August 31, 2022
The Reinvention of the American Mall  

Over the past few years, top tier malls have been innovating to stay ahead of the pack. Our latest white paper dives into strategies shopping centers are implementing — such as adding entertainment centers, getting creative with tenant selection, or offering omnichannel options.  

Below is a taste of our findings – for the full report, read the white paper here

Reutilizing and Repurposing Space

With many retailers reducing their in-mall presence, empty brick-and-mortar stores have attracted plenty of negative attention. But now, malls are increasingly repurposing vacated spaces in new ways that resonate with local communities and can fill their evolving needs.

Younger Customers Linger Longer

At the Ocean County Mall in Toms River, NJ, Simon Property Group repurposed the huge space left by a former Sears store and turned it into a lifestyle center, with stores opening throughout 2020. The space is now being used by a number of highly popular chains such as  LA Fitness, Ulta Beauty, HomeSense, and P.F. Chang’s and also includes a children's play area. 

This pivot seems to be working. Median dwell time to the mall has increased from 53 minutes to 56 minutes, a significant change when considering that a majority of malls have recently seen their dwell times drop. 

The center has also seen the median age for its trade area decrease from 40.5 years old in the first half of 2021 to 37.2 in the first half of 2022, a dramatic shift in visitor demographics. Year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) visits are strong as well – July 2022 were up by 17.1%. 

Fitness Center Provides a Boost

In a similar tale of a closed Sears turning into a lifestyle center, the Northshore Mall in Peabody, MA turned the space vacated by the department store into a mixed-use center. The most significant anchor is now the high-end Life Time Fitness Center that offers cardio, weights, and functional training rooms, and includes yoga, pilates, and cycling studios, indoor and outdoor pools, basketball and pickleball courts, saunas, and a bistro. 

As soon as the health club opened its doors in July 2021, visits to the mall increased – significantly outpacing the levels seen when Sears was still open. Both Yo3Y and year-over-four-year (Yo4Y) foot traffic numbers were impressive, with July 2022 seeing 17.2% more visitors than three years prior. 

Shopping Centers Staying Ahead of the Game

The death of the American mall has been predicted many times over the past decade ,but successful shopping centers are changing that narrative. By getting creative with tenant selection, evolving with their customer base, and rethinking what the traditional mall looks like, malls can keep up with a changing retail landscape.

For an in-depth look at the way malls are staying relevant in 2022, read our white paper here

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