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Published 11 October 2012 04:15, Updated 11 October 2012 05:00
The composition of a shopping centre says a great deal of about the retail sector: which types of stores do well and which are struggling.
The clearest shift at the moment is towards stores that offer services and experiences – both of which are protected from online competition. A peek overseas offers some glimpses of what future Australian centres might look like.
Some changes are subtle. In a centre in Arizona in the United States, the trend to in-store experiences is well captured in the crafts store Make Meaning, where customers make picture frames, decorate cakes and thread necklaces.
Other changes are dramatic. Westfield’s new centre in Stratford City, London, includes a casino and hotel.
And some are fun. In the giant centres of the United Arab Emirates, ice-skating rinks, bowling alleys and enormous arcade areas lease space as large as a department store.
The most pervasive change will likely be the withering of the food hall as a site tucked away from consumer goods and fashion stores.
The founder of retail marketing and communication consultancy Retail Oasis,Steve Kulmar, thinks the integration of food and retail will be one of the key trends in the shopping centres in the next five years.
On a trip to Stockholm, Kulmar came visited a centre called Mood arranged on these principles.
“It had made the shopping mall feel much more like a street. They had done the most outstanding job of integrating food and fashion,” he says. “You walk into to a Westfield, or into a Stocklands, or into an AMP, and they’ve got the food hall down here and the fashion precinct over there.
“At Mood, the customer was coming in to the shopping centre to eat but then they would probably discover something – a fashion purchase, a discretionary item – and then buy it. It was quite clever integration of the two.”