6 themes shaping the future of shopping & leisure destinations

7 March 2023

Shopping Outlets are facing transformational times. Even before Covid the sector faced fundamental existential challenges. So, what next? Here are six themes based on identified customer needs and wants that will help to develop a viable proposition for shopping and leisure destinations. As always, it’s essential to look closely at your prospects and begin by mirroring the local and regional community needs and preferences to create a compelling strategy.

1. ‘Get Active’

Millennials in particularly want experiences. They are looking for full immersion in new tastes, new ideas and new games.

2. ‘Health and Wellbeing’

Now more than ever before people are taking responsibility for their own wellbeing. Your destination can support that need by helping them be the best version of themselves.

A gym is great but it’s just the start and a hygiene factor. From food halls full of local suppliers with authentic provenance to spin classes and calm meditative contemplation lounges – your new destination can offer a full menu of hand-picked options from high energy to extreme calm.

3. ‘Closing the culture gap’

Arts centre meet mall.

Literature, music, art, performance and creativity are renowned around the world for adding a sense of value to any local community. Nurture a framework for local and national cultural activities with a range of facilities to provide a high quality experience. Think about time of day and time of week to drive footfall and create more opportunities for hospitality, for example pre-theatre meals.

4. ‘New Adventures’

The world on your doorstep.

Social media has levelled the playing field of expectation. Use the nourishing powers of global awareness to create food, entertainment and leisure options to inspire alternative and unique experiences. Have you tried Ethiopian vegan food? It’s amazing, worth making a trip to the mall for lunch! Having a hand-picked, inspiring and exciting experience all under one roof delivers an easy solution that’s truly compelling.

5. ‘Outdoors Indoors’

The joy of outdoors all year round.

2020 has helped many people to re-engage with the outdoors in multiple ways and this need can be fed through digital and physical experiences. Create a world where enthusiasts can climb famous peaks, cycle the toughest hills or play a round of the any of the world’s top golf courses. When they’re done there’s an emporium of food and beverage options – for the healthy and adventurous deserving a treat.

6. ‘Pop-up & Refresh’

Fast, agile, transparent and disruptive.

Your destination can become the antidote to passive screen based activity. A programme of change, fresh ideas, entertainment events and a revolving calendar of food specialist caravans can create a real, authentic and physical experience – a place to do the things people can’t do online. Create spaces for experimentation, giving a platform for local innovators and entrepreneurs.

Re-invention can be achieved for any location. It’s important to consider what offers are going head- to-head with the digital marketplace and challenge whether they will continue to generate footfall and dwell time. Convenience isn’t a driver any longer when Amazon can deliver same day. There is solid evidence that adding group activities into the mix of malls can increase dwell time from 1.5hrs to 4.5hrs with one ripple effect being improved hospitality income. Become deeply connected to the community and loyalty will be the reward.