Dr Jason Pallant explores the future of shopping centres in a post-pandemic and experience-driven economy.
What’s a shopping centre without any shops?
Shopping centres are being forced to consider their future given the challenges they have been facing, particularly during the COVID-19 situation.
Where has the retail industry come from?
Australia has the third highest amount of shopping centre space relative to our population in the world. We are spoilt for choice. There is a lot of competition already in the sector, and foot traffic has declined.
People are shopping less, so shopping centres have had to be innovative and change the way they’re interacting with customers.
Many are exploring the theme of the experience economy – the idea of creating interesting, innovative and engaging experiences you can only get in a particular place, such as restaurant precincts, entertainment zones and movie theatres.
Retail during COVID-19
No one predicted there would be a global pandemic which would mean retail stores had to shut and consumers were told to stay at home. This has created a strange environment where the centre is open, but many of the shops are closed.
Shopping centres are very different now with things like hand sanitiser, distancing markers on the floor, and food courts and seating areas closed.
This creates interesting questions about what shopping centres are going to look like in the future. Many retailers have said they won’t be opening many stores, or if they do they will look different to take into account the ‘new normal’.
What is the future of shopping centres?
In the short term, we can expect hygiene and safety measures to stay. Things like sanitising as we walk into shops, not sitting close together in food courts, limiting the number of people in stores – and don’t be surprised about lining up.
It opens an interesting long-term opportunity for shopping centres to innovate and consider their role in the community they are in. That might be through experiences, community services, events, or collaborating with local entrepreneurs to showcase what the local community has to offer.
There is an opportunity for shopping centres to think about how to use a massive amount of space to be beyond simply places we go to buy from shops (which we can do online) and to create a compelling and engaging reason to go to that particular place.
Shopping centres must leverage some of the social aspects we enjoy about being together – in a physically distanced and safe way.
This video is part of Swinburne’s Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship ‘Ideas and Innovation’ series.