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Study reveals that shoppers are finding malls ‘boring’


January 5, 2009
By The Verde Group

Jan. 5, 2009 – A new survey by the Baker Retailing
Initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and
the Toronto-based Verde Group says four of the five most common
problems in malls
reflect a need for elements that encourage greater exploration, such as
a wider range of restaurants, diverse portfolio of stores, and a
general sense of newness or uniqueness.

A new survey by the Baker Retailing
Initiative at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and
the Toronto-based Verde Group says four of the five most common
problems in malls
reflect a need for elements that encourage greater exploration, such as
a wider range of restaurants, diverse portfolio of stores, and a
general sense of newness or uniqueness.

The study, which looks at shopper loyalty and purchasing decisions,
reveals an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among shoppers with malls
that eclipses problems they have with individual stores.

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"The lack of 'discovery' or the 'what's around the corner' factor
seems to be sorely missing for shoppers who want to enjoy themselves at
the mall," says Wharton Professor Stephen J. Hoch, and faculty director
of Wharton's Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative. "These findings should
be a call-to-action for mall developers who are failing to quench this
thirst for excitement. Malls can't be mundane in this economic climate,
they need to excite shoppers from the moment they arrive versus make
them want to turn around and leave."

The study also reveals that on average, customers will drive 25
miles to their mall of choice and visit five stores. One in three will
spend at least two hours in the mall, and the majority will spend $150
during their visit – only one in ten do not make a purchase. If a
shopper is happy with the diversity experienced during their visit to
the mall, they will tell their friends about it which is obviously a
major benefit.

Key findings from past studies include:


  • Discovery – range of
    stores and restaurants, uniqueness of products, special events,
    environmental consciousness, an attractive and inviting appearance
  • Comfort – sufficient cleanliness, proper maintenance, easily located washrooms, ample security
  • Accessibility – ease of finding parking, ability to find parking where wanted
  • Navigation – ease of finding the mall, understanding the mall layout, adequate signage

"Eighteen to 24-year-olds have the most
problems shopping in malls, particularly with parking, boring shopping
experiences, and too many teens hanging around," adds Paula Courtney,
president of the Verde Group. "They are also the most likely to notice
the lack of effort demonstrated by the mall to be environmentally
conscious. Twenty-five to 40-year-olds, on the other hand, spend the
most time and money in the mall. For this group, their top problem
relates to the limited selection of restaurants available."


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