Shopping Centers Today International

FEB 2016

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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F e b r u a r y 2 0 1 6 / S C T 33 practical imperative is increasingly in play as well — namely, the need to make the experience fast and hassle- free. "Convenience is the major driver of 21st-century shopping," said con- sultant Paco Underhill, CEO and founder of Envirosell, a consumer-be- havior research firm. "Even during the recession, if you asked people whether they felt more money-poor or time- poor, the answer was often time. That's part of why we have so much mobile e- commerce today: It saves time." SCT asked several experts to share their thoughts on the opportunities and challenges associated with mak- ing malls and stores more conve- nient. The following articles explore a range of issues: convenience-oriented strategies like the use of technology to create "smarter" parking lots or faster checkout lines; the potential for easier-to-shop store formats to boost convenience across grocery, specialty apparel and other categories; and similar subjects. To be sure, the subject is complex. Landlords and retailers should bear in mind that the proper role of conve- nience may vary widely among differ- ent stores and properties, according to consultant Nick A. Egelanian, president of Annapolis, Md.– based SiteWorks Retail. F o r c o m m o d i t y - o r i - ented convenience stores, drugstores, grocers, big-box discounters and warehouse clubs, in particular, striking the right balance between price and convenience is criti- cal, Egelanian says. "Customers are con- stantly making subconscious choices between price and convenience," he said. "Let's say you have a gas station sitting right in front of a Walmart. The gas station sells gum for a dollar a pack. The Walmart sells six packs of gum for a dollar. Why would anybody not go to the Walmart to buy gum? Because they value their time more than the price." By contrast, convenience tends to be less important for specialty- focused stores and malls, Egelanian says. In these environments, people feel more comfortable slowing down and spending their discretionary time and money. "A Simon mall really can- not compete on convenience," he said. "What they are competing on is exclu- sivity of merchandise." Nonetheless, amid gridlocked roads, overscheduled kids, longer work hours and other pressures of modern life, some mall owners should consider ramping up convenience for their time-pressed shoppers, Underhill says. According to the World Health Organization, about 54 percent of the global population now lives in cities, up from 34 percent in 1960. As cities continue to grow, malls stand to benefit by function- ing as one-stop-shop destinations that make life easier, Underhill says. "It's common for malls in Asia and Austra- lia to have locksmiths, supermarkets, day-care centers, medical offices and gyms to help drive traffic," he said. "In most U.S. malls, the focus is still on apparel and gifts, not these edge-city functions." ☛

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