After World War II, the United States underwent many changes. Among those most influential on retailing were the growth of the population and of the economy. New highway construction enabled people to leave the congested central cities and move to newly developed suburban residential communities. This movement to the suburbs established the need for new centers of retailing to serve the exploding populations. By 1960 there were 4,500 such centers with both chains and nonchains vying for locations.
Such regional shopping centers are successful because they provide customers with a wide assortment of products. If you want to buy a suit or a dress, a regional shopping center provides many alternatives in one location. Regional centers are those larger centers that typically have one or more department stores as major tenants. Community centers are moderately sized with perhaps a junior department store; while neighborhood centers are small, with the key store usually a supermarket. Local clusters are shopping districts that have simply grown over time around key intersections, courthouses, and the like. String street locations are along major traffic routes, while isolated locations are freestanding sites not necessarily in heavy traffic areas. Stores in isolated locations must use promotion or some other aspect of their marketing mix to attract shoppers. Still, as indicated in the next Newsline, malls are facing serious problems.
Newsline: The mall: a thing of the past?
She was born into retail royalty, a double-decker shrine to capitalism that seduced cool customers and wild-eyed shopaholics alike to roam her exhausting mix of 200 stores. Her funky,
W-shaped design was pure 1960s, as if dreamed up by that era's noted architectural whiz, Mike Brady. When her doors opened the first morning, a brass band serenaded the arriving mob.
Cinderella City, once the biggest covered malls on the planet, was a very big deal—for about six years, until the next gleaming mall came along in 1974. That's when the music stopped at Cinderella City. Soon the patrons grew scarce, the concrete began crumbling and graffiti stained some of the walls. It's not pretty, but that's the cold law of the consumer jungle. One minute you're luring shoppers from miles around to chug an Orange Julius or grab a snack at the Pretzel Hut; a few years go by, and they're planting you in the dreaded mall graveyard.
Back then, people made a day out of wandering the massive concourses and lunching in the food courts. Today, with less free time available for many people, shopping is seen as a necessity. Spending time with your family and at home is more important than spending time in a store.
The newest malls reflect the modern need for shopping speed. Covered shopping centers now come equipped with dozens of doors to the outside instead of two main entrances that usher crowds in and out through the anchor department store. That same trend paved the way for the flurry of freestanding Home Depots and TJ Maxx stores as well as discount giants like Wal-Mart. All are sapping customers from mid-market malls, already struggling. In addition to the fresh success of freestanding discount stores, the Internet is drawing off even more customers who seek to buy books or music online.
For the mall to survive, they'll have to be something different—a high-quality environment for the delivery of high touch, high experience, high margin retail goods and services: a place you go for the entertainment shopping experience. 1