New at the Mall: Convenience
Look who's moving into your neighborhood: More Jewelers
Instead of being at the opposite end of the mall from your arch competitor, how would you like to be directly across the corridor? It may happen, according to The Wall Street Journal, as mall operators struggle to offer more convenience in the face of Internet competition.
Around the country, some mall owners are removing planters and fountains to clear sightlines. Others are improving directories and putting anchor department stores closer together to reduce walking. Most radical may be RiverTown Crossings in Grandville, MI, whose owner, General Growth Properties, has clustered competing stores. Kids stores here. Womens clothiers there. Bookstores down the way.
Eight jewelry stores are clustered in the center of the mall.
General Growths customers had requested the change and, after some experimenting, the developer decided to organize all of its 131 shopping centers this way. No question about it, says CEO John Bucksbaum. The Internet has sped things up.
Its the ripple effect of e-commerce. In their heyday, malls were deliberately designed to be difficult. Competing stores were located far apart so customers would have to walk past other stores and perhaps buy something on the way. Planters and fountains required shoppers to take circuitous routes that led them past as many stores as possible.
Many frustrated shoppers decided to shop elsewhere. Between 1989 and 1998, the average persons number of mall visits dropped from 3.7 to 3.1 per month. Now, fearful more customers will opt for point-and-click convenience over drive-and-park-and-walk hassle, mall operators are changing their ways.
by Mark E. Dixon