Shopping center

The Rise of Next-Generation Retail: Changes in Mall Design

As reported by the wall street journal in November, retailers were on track to open more stores than they closed in 2021 for the first time since 2017, based on an analysis of more than 900 chains by IHL Group.

Despite lingering fears of e-commerce contributing to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores and the pandemic-induced struggles of the past year, it’s clear that doomsday predictions have underestimated consumer demand to visit brick-and-mortar stores — and the creative ways the space can adapt to changing habits and desires.

More and more retailers are re-evaluating their physical store models and, simultaneously, consumers have a pent-up urge to return to the world and shop in person. This combination breathes new life and expands the design parameters of retail stores and centers.

Below we explore a some of the mall design trends to watch and how designers and developers can stay ahead of emerging retail trends.

Intentional community spaces: the environment as an anchor

Creative and intentionally programmed common spaces are becoming the main draw of many malls. These can be seen as shared “living rooms” for the community – and are particularly appealing to customers after being collectively stuck within their own four walls for months.

Often, if a center lacks features such as a safe place outside for children to play, an outdoor eating area, or comfortable seating between stores, consumers will intentionally seek out alternatives that offer these equipment.

The ability to monetize these spaces creates many benefits for mall owners and retail tenants by helping to attract people, keep them there longer, and keep them coming back for more.

For example, Nadel recently designed a mall in Southern California to have multiple outdoor amenities, which resulted in increased time spent at the mall and increased spending at nearby retailers. This was achieved by strategically infusing relaxing gathering places with beautiful outdoor amenities and furnishings and attractive landscaping. These simple design considerations are easy to incorporate into design and planning, but they create a huge difference for consumers looking to achieve a complete shopping experience.