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Malls Attract Shoppers Looking for an 'Experience'

mobile shopping . / Credit: Mobile Shopping Image via Shutterstock

Shopping at the mall is a social experience. According to a recent survey of more than 3,400 adults ages 18 and up, 81 percent of Americans shop with someone else. The inaugural survey, designed to understand why people come to the mall, was released by Glimcher Retail Trust.

Despite today's time-deprived culture, the survey showed people are willing to drive up to 30 minutes to get to the mall and stay one to five hours on a monthly basis.

In addition to experiences, the mall continues to be the central gathering place in almost every community. Farmers markets and live music were among the top events shoppers would like to see on a more regular basis at the mall, followed by community events and classes. Similarly, 52 percent of people surveyed said if stores offered more experiences like yoga classes, cooking demos or workshops, they would visit the mall more frequently.

"The way consumers enjoy the mall has changed," said Michael Glimcher, CEO and chairman of Glimcher. "Today, the mall is a destination, offering more than just retail. While shopping will always be the primary reason people go to the mall, the survey supported our notion that going to the mall is about the experiences  — whether that's having a salad and a glass of wine with your girlfriends or enjoying a movie on a Friday night. People want a mix of retail, restaurants and entertainment."

Half of all shoppers surveyed prefer to shop both at the mall and online, and nearly 30 percent of respondents shop exclusively at the mall. Interestingly, despite being tech-savvy and daily social media users, only 20 percent of Americans shop exclusively online and even fewer regularly shop in stores to see the merchandise but purchase the product online, a process called showrooming.

Results of the survey further indicated that online shopping continues to grow but cannot compete with malls, which are still preferred because of their ability to offer a tactile experience in a social context. The ability to try on clothes and accessories (74 percent), the shopping experience (55 percent) and store variety (49 percent) were cited as the primary reasons for shopping at the mall. The mall also affords shoppers the ability to buy it today and wear it today.