Shopping malls thrived before the Covid-19 pandemic. There is an abundance of things which are either practical and necessary, or luxurious and provide comfort in our everyday lives. Most of people love shopping. While some find it tiring, mostly shopping offers a positive experience.
Lots of things changed during the pandemic though. But most of the brands, like Apple, Crate & Barrel, or Allbirds, are still busy despite the infection threat. Meanwhile, older malls and shops tell a different story. Many formerly crowded department stores like JC Penny are closed.
Companies found another way to sell their product as lockdowns forced them to shut the shops. Online shopping is rallying. While it was already famous before the pandemic, since the restrictions it became the only way for the majority of the population to buy what they want. But does that mean that online shopping can take the place of malls in the near future?
Experts have a dual opinion on the matter. While they think that many second-tier malls won’t survive, they also believe that others will gain from a different trend: providing experiences that can’t be replicated online.
What do the experts say on Online shopping?
Julie Averill, Lululemon’s chief technology officer, thinks that in many ways people accelerated themselves into the future of retail in the last six or nine months. She added that coronavirus had given us a very fast accelerant and expectations for quality service are growing with the boom in online shopping and delivery. As a result, retailers need to integrate both their physical and online retail channels seamlessly.
Jason Stoffer, the partner at Maveron, noted that shopping malls would need to evolve to survive. People are going to see a transformation where the mall has to become more experiential. Successful retail destinations may cater to this trend with everything from golf experiences to virtual-reality installations.
Nadia Shouraboura, a former Amazon executive and founder of a company called Hointer, echoed that sentiment.
According to her, over time, we will see a lot more experiences where you go to the store to touch and feel. You will still experience the product. However, a lot of other muck you do in a store will go virtual. For example, the checkout will be much simpler. Online versus in store will also be much smoother.
There were too many brick-and-mortar outlets around the country even before the pandemic, due to a trend of overbuilding. However, that will likely change as well.