Are malls better off as fulfillment centers?
As the retail world continues to grapple with the future fate of shopping malls, a new trend is emerging in the use of former mall space — it’s going industrial.
A recent study discovered 24 U.S. malls that had been converted into some type of supply chain fulfillment center or warehouse since 2016, CNBC reported. Dead malls are being turned into Amazon.com fulfillment locations and other types of hubs, supporting third-party logistics that have emerged alongside the e-commerce boom.
While this shift to fulfillment space may work for malls no longer serving as retail outlets (and in some instances being torn down entirely to make room for warehouses), other operators are experimenting with ways to keep the mall model alive by using more effective draws than no-longer-popular mall anchors.
Some experts have suggested that food halls, in-mall grocery stores, farmers markets and even food preparation facilities could be key in reviving mall traffic. A few major grocers have already taken up residence in shopping malls, with both Whole Foods and Fresh Market finding homes in former Sears spaces.
Other malls have begun opening fitness centers alongside traditional stores, turning the mall into a lifestyle destination where visitors can exercise and do their shopping in one location. Some have even begun folding residential units and coworking spaces into the mix.
And others have begun to enhance the shopping mall experience with more exciting store offerings. The popular Edit@Roosevelt Field concept in Long Island has reconceptualized the mall as a place for a rotating lineup of pop-ups that provide a physical place for otherwise online-only brands. Other malls have brought in retailers like Rose & Loon, which curate and sell artisanal products exclusively from local vendors.
- From dead mall to Amazon warehouse: Here’s how shuttered retail stores are getting a new life – CNBC
- Will foodie culture save the mall? – RetailWire
- Landlords add coworking spaces to drive more people to America’s malls – RetailWire
- Will grocery stores become the new mall anchors? – RetailWire
- Can fitness centers save malls? – RetailWire
- Will the maker movement inspire a new creative direction for malls? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see more malls being converted into fulfillment centers in the years to come? How strong a future do you see for malls to continue as retail and lifestyle destinations?