Malls Turn to Innovation to Stay Competitive

Article originally posted on HERE on August 30, 2022

The opening of the Hollywood Casino York in July 2021 has had a positive impact on foot traffic at the York, PA shopping mall where the casino operates

“Malls have long acted as a gleaming symbol of American retail.,” location analytics firm Placer.ai notes in a new white paper. Following the opening of the first indoor mall in 1956, malls continued to open at a rapid rate—maybe too rapidly. The U.S. now has about 24 square feet of retail space per capita, compared to 4.6 square feet for the U.K. and 2.8 for China.

“Many began to predict the demise and downfall of malls, and that narrative intensified as online shopping grew in popularity.,” the white paper states. “The rise of big-box stores, a focus on ‘services, not things’ and COVID-19 only accelerated these trends.”

However, although the pandemic hit malls hard, some malls have found ways to thrive in the new normal. “In the face of significant retail challenges, top-tier malls are turning to innovative solutions to stay ahead of the game,” including entertainment, a full visitor experience and omnichannel options, says Placer.ai.

One example cited in the white paper is CBL Properties’ July 2021 opening of an 80,000-square-foot casino operated by Penn National Gaming at the York Galleria Mall in York, PA, near Harrisburg. The mall had suffered from negative year-over-year foot traffic metrics until the casino opened, yet it has maintained a positive trend ever since.

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