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Malls: The Comeback Kid of American Retail

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The death of the mall and brick-and-mortar retail has been a constant concept for over a decade. 

The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly shocked the retail industry, which was already feeling pressure from e-commerce and experiencing decreased foot traffic, bringing back the buzzworthy fears of a “retail apocalypse.” Stores were suddenly devoid of customers as the world locked itself down in an effort to contain the virus’s spread, and as a result, storefronts shuttered, and malls became emptier than before.

Landlords frantically began to speculate whether customers were lost forever and the crucial next steps required to survive. If it wasn’t clear already, the pandemic crystallized it: the traditional mall needs to reinvent itself, and retailers who aren’t embracing technology and data will simply not survive. 

[Read more: The Anti-Mall: How Innovative Store Partnerships Are Changing the Face of Retail]

Both landlords and retailers are approaching advanced analytics and shopper traffic-circulation data to determine how to better appeal to shoppers’ needs and wants, while progressive companies are adopting all kinds of innovative technologies to enhance the brand experience. Landlords and retailers who haven’t must begin capitalizing on digital tools to maximize productivity and efficiency and create dynamic and engaging experiences for customers.

For many consumers, it’s no longer about simply visiting a store. Having done their research online, customers arrive at the store knowing exactly what they want and, in many cases, understanding a product’s features and benefits. These tech advances allow shoppers to touch, experience, and then buy products from stores at the mall and either receive their purchases through in-person pickup or delivery channels.

Research shows that these behaviors have likely become fully entrenched during the pandemic, and the path to purchase has been altered permanently. As a result, many malls and retailers have launched omnichannel e-commerce platforms.

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