With many shoppers avoiding Black Friday chaos, many malls are rolling out the welcome mat by adding amenities such as valet parking, free refreshments and relaxation lounges.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the testing comes as malls recognize people unable to stand the Black Friday bustle tend to be bigger spenders and spend more regularly throughout the year. Malls are increasingly losing the holiday spend to the ease of internet shopping and so they are seeking ways to stimulate visits that often lead to incremental purchases.
"People tend to make more impulse and inspired purchases in person, especially if they've been made to feel like a first-class shopper," Kit Yarrow, a professor of psychology and marketing at Golden Gate University, told the Journal.
Many perks focus on solving the hassle of holiday shopping. Some are adding free package-holding services, coat check areas and child care centers. At Simon Property Group's 160 regional malls, security officers will carry shoppers' bags to their car on Black Friday and during weekends over the holiday season. Some traditional malls are adding valet parking previously only seen at high-end centers. South Hill Mall in Pullayup, WA, is offering a free shuttle service to take shoppers from their cars.
Others amenities help shopper's decompress. "Rejuvenation stations" are being set up across several malls offering free coffee and snacks, Wi-Fi access, device-charging stations and places to sit. Some malls are said to be adding massages and gift-wrapping.
Still, another host of amenities — some new and some extended from prior years — directly address the Black Friday crowd. Forest City's malls will hand out "survival kits" of water, energy bars and coffee gift cards to those arriving before Black Friday starts.
At Summit Mall in Fairlawn, OH, the first 250 people to register their e-mail address at guest services will receive a "swag bag" of food samples, Diet Coke, water and store coupons, according to the Akron Business Journal. Sam's Club and Fred Meyer are offering free breakfast to early Black Friday risers.
Which of the perks mentioned in the article do you think will drive the greatest return on investment for malls and merchants?