Will Experiential Retail Save The Holiday Season For Malls

While many malls have been struggling throughout the country, some malls in the Philadelphia suburbs are doing quite well. Iconic mall properties like the King of Prussia and Cherry Hill Malls, have both seen a strong resurgence, mostly due to a better mix of high-end retail and dining options.

One area where the difference in mall health is visible is the traffic during the holiday season. Mall owners need to continually look for ways to improve their foot traffic, and many times this is especially evident during the holiday season.

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Additionally, some older suburban malls like the Granite Run Mall are seeing almost a complete change into more of a town center concept. Another mall in the suburbs that is seeing a number of changes, towards increased experiential retail, is Plymouth Meeting Mall.

Though the change to experiential retail has been happening at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, a recent trip to the mall showed there is still a long way to go, to drive people in large numbers back into the interior of mall properties.

PREIT the owner of the Plymouth Meeting Mall is planning to add a number of new retail and dining options in 2019 including a Dick’s Sporting Goods, Edge Fitness, and Miller’s Ale House, which are opening at the former Macy’s location, according to signs on the construction fencing.

These options will join a number a tenant mix that has lately included many experiental focused retailers including Dave & Buster’s, Orvis, CycleBar, LEGOLAND Discovery Center, 5 Wits, and Busy Bees Pottery & Arts Studio.

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It will be interesting to see how if this change in retailer mix eventually leads to more traffic within the mall. While walking through the mall, it struck me that an important part of the experiential mix that is still missing is getting those who normally wouldn’t stop in, to stop by.

One idea mall owners could benefit from would be to open their properties up as the venue for local races. With the boom in fun runs and 5Ks, it would seem this could be an excellent opportunity for mall owners to get a demographic while shops heavily online, back into their property.

Partnering with local non-profits to host the runs, is an excellent way for mall owners to continually stay front-of-mind during the winter months, especially after the holiday season.