Winter 2017
Top 10 Industry Trends of 2017

4: Creative Use of Space

A recent report from Reis states that retail mall vacancies fell slightly in the third quarter of 2016 but shopping centers of all stripes are not resting on the old formula of looking for standard-issue retailers to fill space. Instead, by focusing on the new experience economy, they’re becoming bedfellows with a whole host of new clients: from health centers and yoga studios to tutoring centers and even library extensions.

In Salt Lake City, for example, the site of a former grocery store is now a climbing gym. Westfield San Francisco has created a large co-working space in the center. The line between mixed-use centers and conventional shopping centers is expected to continue to blur as malls try to recreate “Main Street” on their block and open up vacant spaces to a whole host of new and exciting concepts and uses.

Look to national franchises with unusual concepts (indoor electric car racing, skydiving etc.) as ways of signing on empty spaces on a larger scale. “As shopping centers are increasingly looking to recreating Main Street, franchises are a perfect fit,” says Joe Mathews, CEO of Franchise Performance Group a franchise consultancy based in Nashville, Tenn. adding that franchises are street players, trained to win the war one neighborhood at a time. “Franchises have the best of both worlds: national resources and local execution,” Mathews adds, with the ability to sign on to large accounts at a time, an especially valuable proposition for mall leasing managers.

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Patricia Norins

Patricia Norins serves as VP of Specialty Retail & Publications at the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). Considered the authority on specialty retail, she has been tracking the industry for the past thirty years. Norins is Publisher of Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and pop-up stores). SRR has a readership of more than 75,000 each quarter.

Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte is a Boston-area freelance writer and editor specializing in retail and the book publishing industry. Learn more at
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