The Evolution of Shopping Center Research

Shopping center is a mercantile establishment consisting of a carefully landscaped complex of shops representing leading merchandisers. It can be very appealing to people in different walks of life because of the diversity and flexibility of stores and their products.

A shopping center is a very attractive industry in such ways that there would always be ready investors and customers. Everybody who is in need of clothes, shoes, foods and small luxury such as amusements and entertainment (i.e. movies or arcades) is already a market to this business.

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The perks of shopping center are the offers of various retailers of different goods, air-conditioned environment and food offerings.

The cutting-edged fashion, gimmicks and innovations, combined with ambience and other intangible characteristics that add value to the merchandise are what attracts shoppers or consumers to come.

Meanwhile, air-conditioned environment addresses the fluctuating climate in the country. The extreme weather and less distinct seasonal patterns magnet potential customers to come and spend their spare time inside the mall to let the unexpected rain, heat wave, or intense cold condition pass.

Moreover, aside from wide range stores to choose from while enjoying the controlled temperature inside the mall, customers also gives importance on their tired feet and empty stomach. Outstanding food offerings ranging from restaurants, fast foods to food courts are some of the food stops hungry customers can choose from. It can also be observed that food offerings are not limited to restaurants or food chains. Malls now have kiosks or food stalls which is usually situated in the middle of the mall promoting snacks or small munchies which you can eat while strolling around. According to researches, average mall has 24,000 square feet of space devoted to food. Approximately half of this space is attributed to table service restaurants, while other half is distributed to the rest like fast food, food court and food tenants. The presence of food service tenants adds to the recreational value of the shopping experience and extends the shopping trip.

Shopping center also diversified by providing entertainment and amusement. It does not only limit itself from retailer stores and food stop for hungry shoppers but extends as well in offering entertainments activities like watching movies in its cinemas, playing in arcades or go ice skating situated within the strip the mall. These are other choices to mall-goers who opt to do something else besides shopping. The generally accepted notion is that such family entertainments centers can lengthen shoppers’ duration in the mall and increase revenues for tenants.

Hotspots and mall attractions are in array of varieties. The first question is who is the target market? For women, clothes and shoes shops are the most visited. Men like to go to sports center/stores, electronics and gadgets. Children opt to go to toy stores and entertainment sections. Shopping center is a convenient and a pleasurable way of spending time among friends and families.

The success, fall, make or break of the business lies to various factors. First to consider is the demographic location of the mall. It is wise to locate in high traffic areas or where mainstream of people passes (i.e. business districts). Another factor to consider is the layout. Strategic mall layout is considered to achieve success in this business field. Layouts and strategic strategies can be designed to encourage cross-shopping among stores. In many malls, department stores are positioned at the ends of the center, with small shops located between the anchors. This does allow cross-shopping from one store to another. Layout benefits both types of tenants, increasing potential sales by stimulating the flow of shoppers among department stores and other mall tenants. It is not only the shoppers who are satisfied but mall tenants as well.

In view of challenges facing shopping centers, there are several factors noted in contribution of intense and competitive environment within which shopping center managers operate. Some of these factors include overcapacity of shopping center and retail space, overlapping of merchandise offerings by different retailer formats and changing consumer lifestyle. In addition, modernization and evolution of technology also affects market share of this industry. It is currently subjected to new competitive threats from non-traditional sources such as the internet and other mode of non-store shopping. There were researches made that shoppers are finding that they do not have the luxury to spend time shopping or malling the as they once did. As a result, they go for the faster and most convenient way of shopping such as online shopping or home-TV shopping.

In these instances, it is best to strategize and address on the risks of decrease in market share caused by these factors. There must be major renovation and revitalization efforts to maintain a competitive edge in light of new competition. The industry must continuously reinvent itself through new innovations and concepts. Consumer-relations must be strengthened to motivate shoppers in patronizing their products and services offered. Some of the existing connections can be dial-in service, kiosks, product and store information, customer queries, advertising public relations, transactions, market research, preferred buyer clubs, contests, and personal shopping services. In most cases, electronic marketing can reinforce these connections allowing traditional retailers to protect and expand market share.

In assessing the feasibility and potential profitability of shopping center industry, analysts use trend analysis, efficiency analysis, regression analysis to identify historical patterns in the economic concentration, efficiency, and performance of shopping centers and retailers.

Profitability speaking, profit growth of mall retailers has increased at a faster rate than the industry average in recent time periods. For fiscal year, mall retailers enjoyed an after-tax profit increase of 50.3% over 2002, a remarkable performance if one takes into account that the first four months of the year were consumed by the lead-up to, and prosecution of, a major war.

Two operating metrics, occupancy and rental growth, are some of the keys to evaluating the health of the sector. Historical record showed that growth in profitability of shopping malls is consistent and still marketable. Mall occupancy has powered from strength to strength over the past several years, notwithstanding the seasonal peak that occurs, and is now at high level. Putting all foregoing analysis together, mall retailer profitability, demand for space, constrained new supply and continuing consumer enthusiasm for products and merchandise offered shopping malls have and still looked up by the market as an excellent investment.

Looking at the long-term outlook of this industry, as long as there is a ready market and business is flexible enough to adapt to change, stability and growth in a long-term sense can be achieved. Sales performance of shopping center is improving over the past years as the overall spending environment has improved and retailers have began to seriously implement new strategies to strengthen their competitive positioning and performance.


DeLisle, James. “The Evolution of Shopping Center Research: A 12-Year Retrospective.” 2005.

May 10, 2007.


Hazel, Debra. “Brave New Format. Lifestyle centers look good, but are they earning their keep?”

2006. ICSC. May 10, 2007.

“The Facts on Regional Malls and What They Say About the Vitality of the Concept..” 2005.

ICSC. May 10, 2007. (pdf)

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