Consumers prefer malls to Internet: Report
Dining out, attending a movie or participating in community events are among the reasons people prefer shopping at malls to ordering goods online, according to a survey by Glimcher Realty Trust that is part of its RetailMonitor series exploring consumer behavior. The landlord unveiled the first survey in this series at RECon. “The way consumers enjoy the mall has changed,” said Michael P. Glimcher, chairman of the board and CEO of Glimcher. “Today the mall is a destination, offering more than just retail. While shopping will always be the primary reason people go to the mall, the survey supported our notion that going to the mall is about the experiences — whether that’s having a salad and a glass of wine with your girlfriends or enjoying a movie on a Friday night. People want a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment.”
The firm commissioned C&T Marketing Group to survey about 3,000 adults in April. Some 80 percent of the respondents said they shop with someone, and despite this time-challenged society, some said they are willing to drive for as long as 30 minutes to get to the mall, where they stay for up to 5 hours, on a monthly basis.
The mall continues to be the central gathering place in almost every community. Farmer’s markets and live music are among the things respondents want to see more often at the mall, followed by community events and classes. About half the respondents said that such things as yoga classes, cooking demos or workshops would encourage them to visit the mall more often.
Half of those surveyed said they prefer to shop both at the mall and online, but nearly 30 percent said they shop exclusively at the mall. Interestingly, despite being tech-savvy social-media users, only 20 percent of the respondents said they shop exclusively online, and fewer still said they participate in showrooming (the practice of shopping in stores to see and touch merchandise but then purchasing the products online). The survey indicates that online shopping continues to grow but cannot compete with malls, which are still preferred for their offering of that tactile experience in a social context. The chance to try on clothes and accessories was cited by nearly three-quarters of the respondents as a primary reason for mall shopping, while 55 percent cited the shopping experience and nearly half said store variety.
“The Glimcher RetailMonitor survey findings show consumers seek an all-around shopping experience,” said Marianne Bickle, director of the University of South Carolina’s department of retailing, who consulted on the survey. “From the moment they enter the mall, consumers begin to enjoy the tactile experiences, ambiance of the environment and aromas of the stores and restaurants. Malls of the 21st century should provide a balance of entertainment and shopping experiences. As our study demonstrates, the components required to bring in foot traffic include planned entertainment, communication, variety and commitment.”