Fall 2014
Consumer Shopping Trends

How are the changing retail buying trends of consumers impacting shopping centers?
Study Sponsored by ICSC
Conducted by Alexander Babbage, Inc.

• Are shopping centers still relevant to today’s retail consumer?
• How are today’s consumers shopping?
• What are consumers’ motivations to shop in physical stores, what are they purchasing and why?
• What are the differences between generations in how they shop online, mobile and physical stores?

The answers to these questions are critical for retailers, developers and investors as they deal with technology and demographic changes impacting how the consumer browses, shops, receives and engages with retail products and services. In this study commissioned by ICSC, Alexander Babbage set out to answer these questions and shed light on the future of the industry.

Key findings

Malls are not dead – and their long-term health is not in question. But like any aging entity, as malls enter their seventh decade, vigilance, editing and assurance are required. In order to maintain fitness and relevance, consumers are saying malls must:

Know their place
Consumers prefer malls to online shopping for nearly every tested reason to shop, and even when purchasing online, consumers affirm the role for the physical shopping experience–either to research, pick up or return an online purchase.

Accentuate the positive
Consumers enjoy the “experience” of shopping at a mall and are attracted to the environment for browsing, socializing, eating and entertainment. Further, window displays are more powerful than social media tools for communicating product information. These unique attributes must be a particular focus as malls seek ways to burnish their image in the immediate future.

Edit as necessary
To become more nimble and relevant, less attractive categories such as games and toys may need to be trimmed and rightfully surrendered to the online world, but not at the expense of continuing to attract young families and young shoppers. The addition and enhancement of categories that are experiential such as entertainment, dining– and even sporting goods– will be vitally important as malls distinguish themselves from the humdrum of online shopping.

Speak with authority in today’s vernacular
Consumers remain very price-sensitive and in order to compete with commoditized online shopping, malls must boldly communicate a blended message of value/selection/convenience/entertainment/experience.

Embrace the future
Recognize that omni-channel is here to stay and the consumer actively wants to mix online and shopping center purchasing. Leverage the inherent strengths of physical locations in delivering what the consumer wants, when and how she wants it.

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