The world of shopping is changing. Consumers are looking for a different experience that goes well beyond shopping, one that incorporates many different aspects of entertainment as part of the experience. So, developers are not only trying to create a place to buy things, but a place that consumers can enjoy. We are in the era of the experience economy, where goods alone no longer drive the mix.
Food and entertainment are essential to shoppers because they create an exciting ambience within a shopping center. When asked during a 2015 ICSC survey what was important in determining where consumers shopped for things like apparel and home goods; 52% of respondents said dining options and 49% answered nearby entertainment options. It has been proven that food and entertainment are critical to where consumers shop. The motivation to devote more property to significant entertainment and dining is not only to drive traffic and increase sales, but also to differentiate the centers from their competition, including other shopping centers, online shopping, etc. Developers need to revive their properties to make them a true point of difference from competitors by having a unique restaurant or exciting entertainment component. Competition between shopping centers is now greater than ever. Cinemas alone are no longer enough; there needs to be multiple entertainment anchors within a shopping center.
Incorporating a specific chef-driven concept or a cool bowling alley allows customers to hang out on the property longer than just a typical shopping time. Keeping consumers on the property gives you more cross-shopping, which in turn leads to more traffic and store sales. Not only does it increase sales, but also creates excitement within the shopping center’s target market, adding value to the community. Overall, it completes the community as a real gathering place. These concepts make it easy to go out and have a better experience. The key for developers today is to be the trophy center in the market, perceived as a real destination and a distinct place people want to visit. While consumers are craving a more compelling experience, forward-thinking developers are aware of this and are constantly reinventing their properties to meet modern consumer needs. For the new generation, entertainment, dining options and other destination venues are now essential parts of an appealing sense-of-place.