Sometimes trends take time before we can clearly see and identify them. We have been watching enclosed mall traffic and market share decline for 20 years now. People have blamed that on the department store decline and not being able to attract anchor stores attractors. Additionally, it is pointed out that there is a sameness to malls and the lack of new, differentiated, unique shops.
Over the last 10 years there has been a rise in popularity of lifestyle centers. This upward trend has been attributed to a nicer atmosphere and a more interesting mix of stores and restaurants.
Then you layer in a third seemingly disconnected trend with the food truck phenomenon. An interesting aspect of these three trends:
- Decline of enclosed malls
- Popularity of outdoor lifestyle centers
- Rise of new and innovative food truck concepts
…is that all 3 are happening as much, if not more so, in the Northeast and Midwest as in more temperate climates. So we at Retail Concepts are now pointing out to the retail community that there is an important over-riding trend occurring and that is consumers actually prefer to be outside 12 months a year!
They want to experience the cold and they are prepared to deal with it. Same with the summer heat. We have noticed a fashion trend in wearing shorts year round, hmmm, is this related to the extreme sport mentality that is becoming so mainstream?
A host of influential factors are driving this shift:
- Local shops
- More natural products
- Sustainability both in products and buildings
- Not as wasteful with AC & heat at outdoor centers
- Fresh air
- Better shape and configuration for shopping
- Nostalgic way of shopping as feels more like traditional markets
- More normal and less generic
- Feels more convenient
Think about how this impacts your customers and your business. Maybe if you are inside you should take a break and go outside to ponder this?