Shopping centers add lifestyle options to keep customers as retail landscape evolves

Local News

With the retail landscape changing rapidly, shopping malls are looking for new ways to bring customers in.

Experts say malls are no longer depending on department stores to entice shoppers. They’re going beyond retail, seeking out gyms, entertainment facilities, even condos.

We’re seeing it here in Hawaii at malls like Ala Moana Center.

Planet Fitness will open its doors the day after Christmas, marking the first time a gym will call Ala Moana Center home.

Sitting just below another new addition, a months-old, two-story Target store, the fitness center marks a new era for the long-standing shopping mall.

Commercial real estate expert Stephany Sofos says it’s part of a trend for malls across the country.

“More and more people are going online, so because of that, you have to reinvent yourself as a shopping center to be more interesting and be more entertainment-oriented,” she said.

From building luxury condos on top of existing parking structures to bringing in grocery stores like Foodland Farms, malls are adapting to an increasingly Internet-driven retail economy.

Larger department stores cease to be the anchors depended on to drive in customers, and Sofos says new options are popping up out of necessity.

“The stores are being replaced with restaurants, with bowling alleys, with churches, with fitness centers. That’s all to entertain the client and drive them to the mall,” Sofos said.

With more people shopping online, Tina Yamaki of Retail Merchants of Hawaii says malls are doing whatever they can to bring in business.

“A lot of the stores have where you can order online and pick it up at the store, or you can order that day and you can do like a drive-by on the curbside, and they’ll deliver what you ordered,” she said.

Yamaki adds that malls are bringing in more restaurants and entertainment options as a way to keep customers from staying home.

“A lot of times when you go to the mall with your friends, some people like to go shopping, some people are there to hold the packages. This is a way to have something for everybody in the family,” she said.

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