Shopping Centers, Malls & Retail

“Today, what we're doing is we're moving to an experience economy where what consumers want are experiences-memorable experiences which engage them in an inherently personal way".

Joe Pine, author of "The Experience Economy"

"In order to get people to buy, you have to get them there, and the entertainment coefficient in a mall is something that builds traffic-pure and simple".

Paco Underhill, author of "Why We Buy"

Today, more and more shopping centers, malls and retailers are finding that to stay competitive and attract shoppers in the increasingly competitive retail environment and the experiential economy, they must incorporate entertainment and unique experiences in their mix and facilities. The end of conspicuous consumption and a decrease in shopper visits due to a value shift accelerated by the Experience Economy and Great Recession has made it even more important to generate traffic with other than shopping for stuff.

Many new shopping centers, especially lifestyle centers and town centers, as well as mall renovations, are incorporating a heavy dose of entertainment, dining and eatertainment to their mix to make their centers recreational shopping destinations and to drive frequency of visits and length-of-stay. Some are devoting up to 35% or more of their ‘store’ GLA to entertainment, restaurants and cinemas. When entertainment is incorporated into a shopping complex, it is sometimes referred to as a retail entertainment center (RECs), retail-tainment, shoppertainment or mall-tainment.

With more than 75% of shopping trips and purchase decisions being made by women, it is important to meet a woman's needs at shopping destinations. This often also means meeting the needs of children when they accompany their mother on a shopping trip. With our extensive expertise in shopping center design, development and management, market research, designing family-friendly facilities and designing entertainment, play, eatertainment and edutainment facilities to meet the needs of families with children as well as the adult market, White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group (WHLLG) is uniquely qualified to assist retailers, shopping centers, malls and mixed-use developers with the development of the best strategies and designs to generate traffic (footfall) stores and centers.

Our work has also expanded into the design of experiential retail (also called "experience retail") for retail stores that target the family and children's markets. What originally began as a method to keep children busy while their parents shopped has evolved into experiential retail - creating an environment that kids and their parents enjoy being in and that they won't soon forget.

Experiential retail is the concept of designing a store to be more than just a place selling goods and merchandise, but a fun place to visit—people come for the experience, often more so than just for shopping. Experiential retail differentiates a store from its competitors and gives the store a competitive advantage by repositioning its brand identity and raising the perceived value of the merchandise, sometimes even allowing a higher price to be charged. Components of experiential retail for a children’s-oriented merchandise store commonly include the décor and appearance of the store, interaction with knowledgeable and helpful staff, providing helpful services in addition to merchandise and the addition of things that can make it fun and enjoyable for both children and parents. “Fun and enjoyable” in this context includes things to keep children from becoming bored and to make children want to return, as well as secondary amenities for parents such as convenient places for parents to sit and family-friendly restrooms. The design of the physical environment has a major impact on children’s behavior, so to assure the retail environment is totally family friendly, the fixtures, displays, wayfinding and overall design has to be carefully crafted to shape the desired behavior by children.

WHLLG has worked with mall/shopping center developers/owners and retailers throughout the world to integrate entertainment of all types into the mix, including developing overall master plans and helping them design experiential brands. Randy White, CEO of WHLLG, was previously a mall/shopping center developer, owner and manager with hands-on experience with over 3.0 million square feet of both suburban retail and urban redevelopment centers. WHLLG is an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC), the Middle East Council of Shopping Centres (MECSC) and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). The ICSC has designated Randy as both a Certified Shopping Center Manager (CSM) and a Certified Retail Property Executive (CRX).