Retail Isn’t Just for Shopping

The retail industry has evolved several times over the decades; changing with the needs of the consumer and adapting to consumer behaviors. Retail has again gone through a shift. The popularity of e-commerce, a global pandemic, and the shopping needs of the customer have molded what retail is and it’s not just about shopping anymore.

The Shopper Experience

Traditional Brick-and-Mortar stores will always have a place in the shopping plaza and mall world. But in recent years, it has become more and more evident that when a consumer goes shopping, they aren’t just looking to pick up a few items on their list; they’re looking for services; they’re looking for an experience.

Think of the new shopping experience as heading to a gym class, then picking up a coffee and running into the big box store to grab paper towels. Or, dropping the youngster at the orthodontist and getting a manicure while you wait and then stopping for lunch. The opportunity for the consumer to do more than just shop has evolved the tenant representation in the mall and plaza environment.

The Shopping Plaza

According to a report by ICSC (International Council for Shopping Centers) released in early 2020, the consumer behavior has indicated a major shift in the tenant makeup of the U.S Shopping Center. Their report shows since 2017 shopping centers consist of 53% service driven businesses and 47% traditional retail stores. One driving force of the transition from traditional retail to services and trades seems to be the consumer’s focus on health and wellness, social experiences; dining out or meeting up for a cocktail. Another reason for the shift is the necessity and now familiarity with e-commerce shopping, especially since the pandemic hit. More than ever, people are used to shopping via the web and many retailers have adapted their strategies to make online shopping more accessible and user friendly.

Real world examples of this shift in shopping have been popping up here and there for years. Lynnfield Marketplace, Assembly Row in Somerville and 3rd Ave in Burlington have adopted this new shopping experience in the suburbs and there are more on the way! Northshore Mall, Burlington Mall have rolled out massive renovation plans for transitioning to experiential shopping/dining/service plaza model.
Tuscan Village in Salem, NH  and Rock Row in Westbrook Maine have taken it one step further with incorporating housing and medical campuses in their development plans, making way for entire communities where you can live, work, shop, dine and entertain all in one place! The future of the shopping plaza is here.

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