Shopping Center Business

MAY 2015

Shopping Center Business is the leading monthly business magazine for the retail real estate industry.

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200 • SHOPPING CENTER BUSINESS • MAY 2015 Jeff Evans Looking to attract families? Playtime and others know the secret: give kids something to do and their parents will visit often. Family Attractions Creating Interest I n the March 2015 issue of this maga- zine, Randall Shearin wrote, "Experi- ence is the word of the day in retail, and it is something that shoppers have come to expect in all types of centers." I'm here to tell you that, if "experience" is the buzz of the retail industry, then "family experience" is on hyper-buzz. Why? It all comes down to demo- graphics. Most of the shopping centers in America are strategically placed near busy communities and busy communities are populated with families — and busy families at that. The parents who run these households often work full-time, are sprinting from sports activities to music classes to work functions and, in addition to feeling overwhelmed, they feel guilty. They want positive, fulfilling experiences with their children but they also need to get life's chores done. Many of them also want to enjoy a fun shopping trip without ending up in a wrestling match with their kids. And, quite honestly, a lot of these fami- lies have disposable income that would enable them to become regulars at your shopping center. But they need you to make it enjoyable and rewarding for their children. They need a family experience. Think Of EvEry nEEd The shopping centers that get it are pro- viding just about everything busy parents (and grandparents) need. From front-row parent parking spaces to family restrooms, there are some developers who are snap- ping up the family crowd just by making an effort to please. For example, eight years ago, Westfield Group saw the family wave coming and they fully embraced it with their Westfield Family, or "WFamily," concept. Their sig- nature Family Lounges provide a nurs- ing room, changing stations, microwave, kid-friendly movies, toys and comfortable seating. Mom could literally spend her en- tire day at the mall, shake off cabin fever, buy herself a new outfit and treat her kids to lunch thanks to the amenities offered through WFamily. Take note: if there's competition for this mom's dollar in her community, and one mall has rolled out the red carpet in response to her needs (in addition to offering good retail) and the other cen- ter just beckons with retail storefronts, which shopping center do you think she'll choose? Put yourself in a parent's shoes. Or, act like a social scientist: sit down one day in the middle of your center and watch parents: • They have strollers: Offer stroller rentals so they don't have to drag one from home. • Expecting moms need TLC: Give ex- pecting moms a place to rest their feet and enjoy a quick pampering moment with a chair massage. • Parents need privacy: Sometimes par- ents need to bring the stimulation down a notch if they want to keep shopping. A quiet play room (or a nursing room for new moms) can give them the space they need to reenergize for more shopping. • Hold their packages for them: Par- ents only have two hands just like the rest of us and at least one of those hands is holding a child. Offer to collect their pur- chases in one place so they can gather everything before they go. Be observant. If you see a parent strug- gling, ask yourself how you could make his or her experience easier or more fun. ThE family ThaT Plays TOgEThEr shOPs TOgEThEr Play areas are not a new amenity. In fact, they are almost the norm in today's most popular shopping centers. We all know that families like play areas. But did you know that play areas: • Increase length of stay: Parents can shop longer and spend more money when they are offered a place where their chil- dren can play and burn off energy. • Inspire a shopping routine: Parents listen to their kids. If you have to shop and you know that your child would rather go to the center with a play area, then that's where you will routinely go. • Create community: Play areas pro- vide a friendly environment for play dates, making your center the shopping destina- tion of mom groups. WEsTfiEld grOuP: Think Of EvEry nEEd In 2009, Westfield already saw the fam- ily entertainment wave coming and they embraced it with the WFamily concept. Westfield contracted with PLAYTIME to design, manufacture and install its WFam- ily play areas. The children's play area at Fashion Valley in San Diego. The play area at Avalon in Alpharetta, Georgia.

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