A Few Thoughts on the Future of Shopping Malls

The fate of the traditional indoor shopping mall is inextricably linked, for many jewelers, with the very survival of their business.

Which is why we at JCK are frequently dissecting and charting its struggles, and—hopefully—its transformation into something more diverse and profitable than a pure-play retail stop.

A recent article in Business of Fashion, “A New Model for Shopping Malls,” presented some new insider opinions about where the classic mall could be headed, how it will potentially evolve, and what mall retailers and operators can do to adapt to changing consumer needs and desires.

It’s an excellent, lengthy piece (by writer Hayley Phelan), so I’ve distilled some of its most engaging bits from cited thought leaders:

“The heart of the [mall’s] problem now is time….Time is currency. So the challenge is to address how consumers want to spend their time. If I can take care of my transactional shopping online at home when it’s convenient for me, it frees up time during the day that I could spend with my family…If I go shopping, the nature of that shopping will be very different.” —Nina Fuhrman, head of retail strategy at IDEO

“What most people agree on is that e-commerce as a whole will continue to grow rapidly and eat into offline commerce. In the steady state, offline commerce will serve only two purposes: immediacy (stuff you need right away) and experiences (showroom, fun venues). All other commerce will happen online.” —Chris Dixon, venture capitalist


Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Va. (Image courtesy of Fair Oaks Mall)


“Increasingly the consumer—particularly in Asia and in the Middle East, but also more and more globally—is much more interested in family-oriented entertainment…Now people want to bring their children everywhere.” —Mortimer Singer, CEO of Traub

“As we see the lines blurring between where you work and where you play and where you live, we’re going to see more residences and office spaces attached to malls…We’re already seeing this happen in a lot of metropolitan cities, like Sao Paulo and Tokyo, where you have major density, and it just has to be that way. But it serves as a pretty amazing convenience to have everything nearby, to not have to drive anywhere to do your shopping or go to the gym.”—Nina Fuhrman, head of retail strategy at IDEO

Top: South Coast Plaza in Southern California around the holidays (Image courtesy of South Coast Plaza)

JCK Magazine Editor