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November 25th, 2014Malls Woo U.S. Shoppers With Free Rides, ‘Frozen’ Palaces

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by Carol Hymowitz and Lindsey Rupp
BusinessWeek.com

Free car service to and from malls. Personal shoppers to help you choose the right items. Donating a portion of what you spend to your favorite charity.

These are all enticements that U.S. retailers and mall owners are using to get shoppers in the door this season. Seeking an alternative to the heavy discounting that characterized last year’s holiday push, shopping centers are touting convenience and special events. They’re also aiming to use the human touch as an advantage in an age when customers can buy gifts with a few mouse clicks.

After an improving job market and falling fuel prices have put more money in shoppers’ pockets, retailers are expecting their best holiday sales in three years. Still, stores aren’t taking customers for granted during the two-month shopping blitz, when the industry books about a fifth of its annual revenue. For some malls that means sprucing up the traditional Santa with a “Frozen”-themed ice palace.

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