Consumers match analysts' confidence in malls

A father and son shop for sneakers
Malls are adapting to consumer preferences. (bst2012/Getty)

The death of the mall has been called out as a myth by research generated by the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC). The Council's President and CEO Tom McGee notes that instead of disappearing, shopping centers are adapting to changing consumer habits.  

"The general sentiment is that malls will continue to play an important role but they will look different in the future, which is positive for communities across the country," he said.

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And the research supports these sentiments. About 165 million consumers went to a mall in the past three months, more than 60 million of whom were millennials. And almost two-thirds of adults say physical stores are still the place for a majority of their purchases. 

Plus, 82% of adults believe that shopping malls will still exist in the next five to 10 years, but 46% expect that they will look different from how they look today. 

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"Malls are constantly evolving to meet the needs of their local communities," Stephanie Cegielski, VP of public relations at ICSC, told FierceRetail. "They are definitely responding to consumer desires through a more diverse food and beverage option as well as more unique experiences that attract customers and keep their attention. Keeping up with the pace of technology is tricky for everyone, but malls and retailers are working hard to incorporate new technology into their space to meet the technologically savvy consumer."

So what are consumers looking for in today's malls? Seventy percent said shopping centers need to create an engaging experience that combines shopping and entertainment. More than half, 54%, want food halls or unique eating/drinking establishments; 50% want malls to host local community events such as farmers' markets or craft fairs; and 46% want entertainment complexes. 

"Consumers are looking for uniqueness and experience," Cegielski said. "Additionally, they want a personalized experience to go with every transaction they make."