Once the recession started to recede, many struggling shopping centres expected shopping behaviour to change and spending to pick up. This didn’t happen – instead, a new context has emerged in SA with many recessionary shopping patterns having become habitual. In 2012, Yellowwood Future Architects identified several key shopping trends related to behaviour:
• A focus on the in-store experience which will see retailers and manufacturers collaborating to provide experiential shopping
• A ‘solution’ shop where retailers and manufacturers offer shoppers ‘solutions’ to their daily shopping problems
• The growing impact of smartphones and the Internet on shopper behaviour
• Rise of the ‘quick trip’ shopping trend
Shopping centres have been devising how they can make a visit to the centre an ‘experience’ for decades. Recent examples include the Snow World at Canal Walk in Cape Town, where families can experience a winter wonderland for Christmas; and the Gateway Mall in Durban which is perhaps the most ‘experience’ focused local mall out of them all.
Yet these sorts of attractions are generally limited to the larger malls and are mainly focused on entertainment rather than the act of shopping itself. So how can smaller malls focus on this shopping trend of creating an ‘experience’ for consumers?
Colman Architects has proposed that an Accounting Suite be built within the shopping centre where representatives would be available to help shoppers with their budgets before making their purchases. CommArts suggested that because of recent shopping trends, shopping centres of the future would be places where food is grown, crafts created, products manufactured, energy generated and education provided. Smaller centres are well positioned to influence consumer behaviour by delivering a local, grassroots experience – a counteraction to an increasingly digital and globalised social experience.
Also, how can the shopping centre experience be made more convenient for moms with young children or babies? Perhaps providing a stroller service where moms can put down a deposit and get the use of a specially designed stroller with space for shopping bags might be an idea worth exploring. This would save her the hassle of having to load and unload her own stroller from the car and make the whole experience more convenient.