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Summer 2014 Consumers’ Choice: Shopping Centers

Shopping centers account for the vast majority of consumer spending.

As advances in technology continue to shape the retail landscape, it’s more important than ever to know about consumer shopping behaviors: preferences – shopping centers or online; demographic patterns and motivations for each. To answer these key questions, the International Council of Shopping Centers commissioned a consumer study by a third-party market research firm to shed light on the future of the retail industry.

There were five key findings:

1.Consumers prefer shopping in malls. They prefer shopping centers to online shopping for nearly every tested reason to shop. Even when purchasing online, consumers affirm the role of the physical shopping experience–either to research, pick-up or return an online purchase.

2. Consumers enjoy the “experience” of shopping at a mall. Shoppers are attracted to the mall environment for browsing, socializing, eating and entertainment. Window displays are more powerful than social media tools for communicating product information. Visual merchandising must be a particular focus as retailers seek additional ways to grow sales.

3. New product categories are trending up. 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.

4. Retailers’ marketing messages are more important than ever. Consumers remain very price-sensitive and in order to compete with commoditized online shopping, retailers must boldly communicate a blended message of value, selection, convenience, entertainment and experience.

5. Omni-channel retailing is here to stay. Today’s consumer actively wants to mix online and shopping-center purchasing. It’s critical for retailers to leverage the inherent strengths of physical locations in delivering what the consumer wants, when and how shoppers want it.

Stay tuned for more data from this study. In the fall edition of Specialty Retail Report, we’ll take a closer look at the shopping behaviors of millennial consumers.

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Patricia Norins

Norins is the founder and publisher of two national trade magazines and two trade shows. Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and temporary in-line stores) has a readership of more than 75,000 and GIFT SHOP, the magazine for independent gift shop owners, has a readership of more than 60,000. She also serves as consultant to small independent retailers across the country.
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