How retail malls are evolving

What happens to Main Street when all of its retail traffic is redirected to Dot-Com Avenue? El Centro knows it.

El Centro is an example of how many retail centers are evolving to keep pace – we mean literally, as in foot traffic – with a clientele that has become accustomed to buying everything online. The residential and commercial complex, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, has recently added Amoeba Music, the world’s largest independent record store, as primary tenant.

The choice is both non-traditional and natural – that is, opportunistic. Amoeba has a long history in Hollywood, but it closed its doors almost a year earlier due to the Covid-19 pandemic. By wooing Amoeba to open in El Centro, developer DLJ Real Estate Capital Partners brought the comforts of nostalgia and “normalcy” to a community locked in for a year.

After all, if there’s one thing that many of us can relate to, it’s browsing vinyl album covers in bins.

In 2020, 8,741 stores closed, according to tracking by Coresight Research, and these closures are evident on Main Street as well as in suburban malls.

Now, these shopping districts, like traditional malls, are looking for tenants sexy enough to keep shoppers away from their digital devices and retail technologies introduced in 2020 to maintain sales. To attract more foot traffic, these hubs welcome tenants who literally stop people in their tracks by combining retail with new forms of entertainment, professional spaces and civic centers.

Amoeba in El Centro is one example. Looking across the country, here are more.

Fashion District, Philadelphia. Opened in 2019, this three-block urban shopping hub has made a point of including tenants who turn passing commuters into an all-day shopping base. There is a flexible workspace (by Industrious), a bowling and billiard room and an AMC multiplex. It also includes $ 1 million commissioned art exhibitions, designed in partnership with the Percent for Art program of the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

The former site of South Works, Chicago. This project discussed on the former US Steel site is still in the weed development stage, but it just brings innovative thinking into its vision. A pre-pandemic proposal by rapper Common, who wishes to partner with the developers on the project, offers a residential community with a film production studio (including sound stages), an auditorium, a skateboarding area, a golf course, a social club and a climbing wall. The site was also included in a short list of locations for Chicago’s premier casino.

Hudson Yards, Manhattan. This mixed-use tower isn’t a traditional curbside shopping district, but the mixed-use center – located on the West Side of Manhattan – does serve a community. To bring residents of its condominium and apartments to the halls of the mall, Hudson Yards has mixed experiences, such as b8ta, a store where shoppers can try and purchase some of the most intriguing new tech products, and a studio Genesis Luxury Vehicle – an unusual option in a city where many rely on public transportation.

Ivy Station, Culver City, California. Adjacent to Culver City’s Metro Expo line, this mixed-use project opened his building in April, launch of a “staggered revelation”. The housing will be joined by a non-traditional anchor: WarnerMedia, which rents space for employees of HBO, Cinemax and WarnerMedia Entertainment. the retail tenants Will appeal to those intentionally close employees, residents and metro users: there’s a yoga studio and Stretch Lab, a brewery, a Healthy Spot pet store, and an outdoor space that will feature movie nights, art exhibitions and concerts.

Above the Rhine, Cincinnati. A revitalized neighborhood that has garnered national attention for its mix of breweries, localized retail, and entertainment (including a casino and ax throwing hall), Over-the-Rhine still managed to add l unexpected with a nightclub. E19 Lounge Bar & Discotheque open in the fall of 2020 and is an inclusive environment, serving the LBGTQ + community and its allies, for dance evenings with live music as well as DJs and dance videos.

Highland Park Village, Dallas. This upscale open-air center in April added the first LoveShackFantasy boutique, a New York-based lifestyle brand known for its bridesmaid dresses designed by the retailer’s artistic director, Rebecca Hessel Cohen. The center also hosts a regular community market event called Local, which includes neighborhood vendors, games, and music.

Westfield World Trade Center, Manhattan. Heavy on services (it’s part of the same structure that houses the World Trade Center Transportation Hub), this 5-year hub adds an online-only merchant Health Elyséefirst brick store. Elysium develops health and wellness products based on research progress made by its own scientists and engineers (and a scientific council with eight Nobel Prize winners).

Looking to the Future – To be successful, you have to see what buyers see

We are still in the early stages of the post-pandemic retail recovery, and some of these concepts may not hold up. What matters now is how buyers act when their world opens up. How they spend their time and money now provides valuable insight into how their preferences and tolerances will evolve after the crisis.

Of course, buyers change and some tenant ideas may be ahead of their time. But if a 31-year-old record store can come back, retailers may not have to look so far ahead of their time. They just need to look as far as their customers can see.

Bryan Pearson is a featured contributor to The Wise Marketer and is currently a director and strategic advisor to a number of loyalty-related organizations. He is the former CEO of LoyaltyOne.

This article originally appeared in Forbes. Make sure to follow Bryan on Twitter to learn more about retail, loyalty and customer experience.

Revolutionizing Main Street: How Shopping Malls Are Evolving

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