900 North Michigan Shops

Situation:

900 North Michigan Shops on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue needed to understand the needs of their shopper and how important the tourist market is to retail productivity.

Analysis:

Alexander Babbage conducted extensive shopper and trade area research to determine who was coming to the center, what their productivity was and which stores they frequented.

Result:

Using the findings from our research, 900 North Michigan Shops continues increase focus on highly-productive shoppers and use the research data to close deals with key bell cow tenants.

Destination Industry Dispatch: 3 ways Jamestown’s Ponce City Market is winning at Instagram

This summer, Alexander Babbage appeared at ICSC’s fourth annual Mocial conference to present our Shopping Center State of the Industry report on social media use. The report, which is available for download here, is the first of its kind and offers benchmarks for audience size and engagement rates along with insights on best practices for shopping centers who choose to harness this immensely popular medium.

One of the more eye-catching aspects of the whitepaper was a segment on the success of Ponce City Market, a mixed-use development in Atlanta, GA.

 

People are front-and-center. 

By now it’s common knowledge that Instagram photos with faces in them are more likely to snag likes, but Ponce City Market takes this trick a step further, highlighting the people who keep the center buzzing by posting high-quality photography and short anecdotes to explain each subject’s significance to the center. Check out one of the center’s top posts this month below, and notice how the photography is eye-catching and the caption weaves the center’s history with the subject’s memorable story.

 

#myPCM creates community. 

Brands aren’t the only Instagram accounts looking for likes—your social-savvy shoppers are looking to get their photos out there, too. Creating a simple hashtag to establish a sense of community around your center allows user-generated content to do the talking for you. Ponce City Market’s #myPCM has accumulated almost 8,000 posts, ranging from #foodporn to street art, selfies and poised lifestyle snaps. Ponce City Market has aligned itself with a particular aesthetic in part by combining its own hashtag with other popular tags in the Atlanta Instagram community, like #weloveATL and #atlantabeltline.   

 

Block this way ????????#mypcm

A photo posted by s a r a l o n g s w o r t h (@saralongsworth) on

 

Calls to action take tagging to the next level. 

Sure, strong photography will get plenty of likes, but getting your center’s photos in the feeds of non-followers takes a little more effort. Ponce City Market’s top post in July — by a longshot — was a call to action asking its users to tag a friend they’d challenge to a game of mini golf. More than 1,500 likes and 148 comments later, the photo’s reach spanned far beyond PCM’s established audience, putting their new rooftop attraction in front of more users than they could reach alone.

 

We’ve got a hunch you’ve never played putt putt like this before! Tag a friend you’d like to challenge ? #weloveatl

A photo posted by Ponce City Market (@poncecitymarket) on


You don’t have to have a rooftop amusement park or a long history to cash in on these tips. Everyone can find beauty in the people of their center, align their hashtag with the aesthetic they want to attract, or call users to action with a well-phrased post. For more insight on benchmarks and best practices for social media, download Alexander Babbage’s full whitepaper here. For more information on how analytics and data can help your center hit its goals, contact Alexander Babbage here.

Sweepstakes Rules

OFFICIAL RULES – SURVEY SWEEPSTAKES

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES.

EACH SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY WILL HAVE AN EQUAL CHANCE OF WINNING. MAKING A PURCHASE OF A PRODUCT OR SERVICE WILL NOT IMPROVE AN INDIVIDUAL ENTRY’S CHANCES OF WINNING.

Prize: One (1) participant is eligible to win a $500 Visa® Gift Card.

Consumer Disclosure: Odds of winning are based upon the number of entries.

Sponsor: Alexander Babbage, Inc. (“Sponsor”) is the sponsor and administrator of this sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”). Sponsor’s business address is 400 Colony Square, 1201 Peachtree Street, N.E., Suite 500, Atlanta, Georgia 30361.

Sweepstakes Period: Sweepstakes begins on August 18, 2016 and ends on August 31, 2016 or when the survey has reached the target number of completes. (“Sweepstakes Period”).

Eligibility: Officials and employees of the Sponsor, its affiliates, related advertising and promotional agencies, and their immediate family members and members of the same household of such employees are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes, in addition to any other persons or entities directly associated with this Sweepstakes (together with the Sponsor, the “Sweepstakes Entities”). To qualify for the Sweepstakes, all entrants must be at least 18 years of age and a member of the Sponsor’s email database or current legal resident of the fifty states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia (D.C.), who are physically located and residing therein (excluding Guam, Puerto Rico and all other U.S. and foreign territories and possessions. By entering this Sweepstakes, entrants accept and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor. Sweepstakes void where prohibited by law.  Entrants must be Facebook members to enter; however, the Sweepstakes is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook, and Facebook is completely released of all liability by each entrant in this Sweepstakes. Sponsor has no affiliation with Facebook and no responsibility for or control of any matters relating to Facebook or Facebook accounts.

Sweepstakes Entries: In order to enter the Sweepstakes, entrants must click on the link provided through Facebook, and complete the survey between August 18, 2016 and August 31, 2016. Only entries with phone number and email address included in survey will be considered. Entry Requirements: Only one (1) entry per person. If multiple entries are received, only the first entry will be considered and subsequent entries will be disqualified.  Survey must be completed and fully submitted. Entries cannot be obscene, indecent, offensive, violent, hateful, or be against the law as determined solely by the Sponsor.

Prize Drawings: One (1) winner will be chosen at random on September 5, 2016. Winners need not be present and will be notified by e-mail. If the winners do not claim the prize within one (1) week of being notified, a new winner may be selected and notified. A complete list of winners will be available at Sponsor’s Offices. Sponsor is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by tampering, hacking, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with the Sweepstakes. Prizes cannot be substituted, assigned, or transferred by winners. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify entrants who fail to follow these Official Rules or who make any misrepresentations relative to the Sweepstakes and redemption of a prize.”

Tax Issues: Sponsor will report all prize winnings to the appropriate state and federal agencies as required by applicable law. The winner is responsible for all tax consequences (if any) of the Prize.

Publicity Authorization: Each winner agrees to permit the Sponsor to utilize his/her name and likeness in promotional and other Sponsor materials, without additional compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.

Disputes/Choice of Law: Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the state or federal courts located in Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will entrants be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrants hereby waive all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased.  All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of entrant and the Sponsor or the Sweepstakes Entities in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the substantive laws of the State of Georgia, without regard to choice of law rules.

Additional Disclaimer: This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Visa®. The information provided will only be used to contact the winner.  Visa is copyrighted. All rights reserved. Entrants agree that Sweepstakes Entities shall not be liable for losses or injuries of any kind resulting from acceptance/possession and/or use/misuse of prize(s), participation in this Sweepstakes, or any technical malfunctions of the telephone network and/or transmission line, computer on-line system, computer dating mechanism, computer equipment, hardware, software, or any combination thereof, or any entries that are late (including delayed data transmissions), tampered with, garbled, incomplete, misdirected, lost, mutilated, delayed, corrupted, mechanically duplicated, or otherwise not in compliance with these Official Rules. Entrants also agree that the Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible or liable for any injury or damage to an entrant’s or third person’s computer related to or resulting from this Sweepstakes and its prizes. The Sweepstakes Entities are not liable for damage to a user’s computer system in any way due to an Entrant’s participation in this Sweepstakes or downloading any information in connection with this Sweepstakes, including without limitation any server failure, lost, delayed or corrupted data or other malfunction. The Sweepstakes Entities reserve the right to modify or cancel the Sweepstakes in the event that it becomes technically corrupted.

Rules:  For an additional copy of these Official Rules, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope, specifying which you are requesting to: Alexander Babbage, Inc., 400 Colony Square, 1201 Peachtree Street, N.E., Suite 500, Atlanta, Georgia 30361, Attention: Contest Rules.

Contest Rules

OFFICIAL RULES – SURVEY SWEEPSTAKES

NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY IN ORDER TO ENTER THE SWEEPSTAKES.

EACH SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY WILL HAVE AN EQUAL CHANCE OF WINNING. MAKING A PURCHASE OF A PRODUCT OR SERVICE WILL NOT IMPROVE AN INDIVIDUAL ENTRY’S CHANCES OF WINNING.

Prize: Two (2) participants are eligible to win a $150 Kings Plaza Gift Card and one (1) participant is eligible to win a $250 gift card.

Consumer Disclosure: Odds of winning are based upon the number of entries.

Sponsor: Kings Plaza (“the Mall”) is the sponsor and administrator of this sweepstakes (the “Sweepstakes”). The Mall’s business address is 5100 Kings Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11234.

Sweepstakes Period: Sweepstakes begins on August 17, 2016 and ends on August 31, 2016 or when the survey has reached the target number of completes. (“Sweepstakes Period”).

Eligibility: Officials and employees of the Mall, its affiliates, related advertising and promotional agencies, and their immediate family members and members of the same household of such employees are not eligible to participate in the Sweepstakes, in addition to any other persons or entities directly associated with this Sweepstakes, including but not limited to Alexander Babbage, Inc. (together with the Mall, the “Sweepstakes Entities”). To qualify for the Sweepstakes, all entrants must be at least 18 years of age and a member of the Malls email database or current legal resident of the fifty states of the U.S. and the District of Columbia (D.C.), who are physically located and residing therein (excluding Guam, Puerto Rico and all other U.S. and foreign territories and possessions. By entering this Sweepstakes, entrants accept and agree to be bound by these Official Rules and the decisions of the Mall. Sweepstakes void where prohibited by law.

Sweepstakes Entries: Complete the survey via link provided in e-mail between August 17, 2016 and August 31, 2016. Only entries with phone number and email address included in survey will be considered. Entry Requirements: Only one (1) entry per person. If multiple entries are received, only the first entry will be considered and subsequent entries will be disqualified.  Survey must be completed and fully submitted. Entries cannot be obscene, indecent, offensive, violent, hateful, or be against the law as determined solely by the Sponsor.

Prize Drawings: Three (3) winners will be chosen at random at 10 a.m. on September 9, 2016. Winners need not be present and will be notified by phone call or e-mail. If the winners do not claim the prize within one (1) week of being notified, a new winner may be selected and notified. A complete list of winners will be available at Kings Plaza Management Offices. Kings Plaza Management is not responsible for any incorrect or inaccurate information, whether caused by tampering, hacking, or by any of the equipment or programming associated with the Sweepstakes. Prizes cannot be substituted, assigned, or transferred by winners. Kings Plaza Management reserves the right to disqualify entrants who fail to follow these Official Rules or who make any misrepresentations relative to the Sweepstakes and redemption of a prize.”

Tax Issues: The Mall will report all prize winnings to the appropriate state and federal agencies as required by applicable law. The winner is responsible for all tax consequences (if any) of the Prize.

Publicity Authorization: Each winner agrees to permit the Mall to utilize his/her name and likeness in promotional and other Mall materials, without additional compensation or permission, except where prohibited by law.

Disputes/Choice of Law: Except where prohibited, each entrant agrees that: (1) any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of or connected with this Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the state or federal courts located in Kings County, New York; (2) any and all claims, judgments and awards shall be limited to actual out-of-pocket costs incurred, including costs associated with entering this Sweepstakes, but in no event attorneys’ fees; and (3) under no circumstances will entrants be permitted to obtain awards for, and entrants hereby waive all rights to claim, indirect, punitive, incidental and consequential damages and any other damages, other than for actual out-of-pocket expenses, and any and all rights to have damages multiplied or otherwise increased.  All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation, and enforceability of these Official Rules, or the rights and obligations of entrant and the Mall or the Sweepstakes Entities in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the substantive laws of the State of New York, without regard to choice of law rules.

Additional Disclaimer: The information provided will only be used to contact the winner.  Entrants agree that Sweepstakes Entities shall not be liable for losses or injuries of any kind resulting from acceptance/possession and/or use/misuse of prize(s), participation in this Sweepstakes, or any technical malfunctions of the telephone network and/or transmission line, computer on-line system, computer dating mechanism, computer equipment, hardware, software, or any combination thereof, or any entries that are late (including delayed data transmissions), tampered with, garbled, incomplete, misdirected, lost, mutilated, delayed, corrupted, mechanically duplicated, or otherwise not in compliance with these Official Rules. Entrants also agree that the Sweepstakes Entities are not responsible or liable for any injury or damage to an entrant’s or third person’s computer related to or resulting from this Sweepstakes and its prizes. The Sweepstakes Entities are not liable for damage to a user’s computer system in any way due to an Entrant’s participation in this Sweepstakes or downloading any information in connection with this Sweepstakes, including without limitation any server failure, lost, delayed or corrupted data or other malfunction. The Sweepstakes Entities reserve the right to modify or cancel the Sweepstakes in the event that it becomes technically corrupted.

Rules:  For an additional copy of these Official Rules, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope, specifying which you are requesting to: Kings Plaza Management Offices, 5100 Kings Plaza, Brooklyn, New York 11234, Attention: Marketing Department.

 

Now Hiring: Client Insights Consultant

Duties:

  • Responsible for the designing, implementing and executing full-scale strategy and custom market research studies for multiple client accounts. This includes consulting on study and questionnaire design and developing issue-focused analysis in the reports, conduct qualitative and quantitative research projects, conduct complex statistical analyses to interpret the data.
  • Drive client satisfaction by utilizing knowledge of clients’ business and industry to anticipate needs and offer proactive, actionable solutions;
  • Build and nurture relationships, anticipate client needs and establish credibility through insightful analysis of study results;
  • Collaborate with company’s internal team to develop high quality, client ready analysis for senior review that effectively communicates critical learning’s, insights and conclusions which drive actionable recommendations;
  • Organize and coordinate project logistics and resources to meet deadlines, budget and quality standards;
  • Contribute to revenue goals by identifying opportunities for organic growth;
    • Seek out and participate in level-appropriate trainings/conferences to further knowledge and skills;
    • Travel is required once a month in North America.

 

Requirements:

PhD in Psychology and 2 years experience in job offered or as Researcher or Research Manager. Research experience must include experience in conducting qualitative and quantitative research projects and conducting complex statistical analyses to interpret the data. This position requires only little domestic and international travel once a month.

 

 

Hours:                                  40+ hrs/week

 

Location:                             Alexander Babbage, Inc., 1201 Peachtree St NE, Suite 500, Atlanta, GA 30361

 

Contact:                               Jon Lassiter, Vice President, Finance & Operations
jlassiter@alexanderbabbage.com

Database Analysis and Surveying

  • ?Surveying and mapping your databaseMap my customer
    • ?Quantify database demographics, behaviors and preferences including reasons for visit, visit frequency, expenditures, number of stores visited, store and category preferences, satisfaction with the property and perceptions of the property, etc.
    • ?Using the database email addresses, append the data and identify home addresses, which are then plotted on a map.
    • ?Compare database to the center’s defined trade area to determine if the database is representative of the best shoppers and how to strengthen it.

 

 

Contact Alexander Babbage today at info@alexanderbabbage.com or 404-961-7612

Social Media Snapshot Year-End 2014

We are pleased to provide the 2014 year-end summary of social media rankings for the shopping center industry.  Use the information below to compare the number of Likes/Followers for your center to that of the industry’s top 50 social media leaders.

 For a complete list of the Top 50 Rankings for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, please contact us.

(Click on the graphic to view larger)

Forrester Advises Advertisers To Abandon Facebook Because It Is Biased Against Them | Alexander Babbage Viewpoint: What does this mean for shopping centers?

 

Shopping centers that use social media may be interested in a recent report that recommends dropping Facebook as an advertising channel.  Forrester, a consulting firm, recommends brands explore smaller social networks that have less clutter in newsfeeds and advertising.

www.chron.com/technology/businessinsider/article/Forrester-Advises-Advertisers-To-Abandon-Facebook-5900469.php

Specifically, Forrester cites “marketers are dissatisfied with the performance of their Facebook pages and point to the fact that brands don’t actually have social relationships with their customers.” This is an important consideration for shopping centers when assessing a social media strategy. Forrester’s data implies poor advertising performance via Facebook and Twitter; this indicates a potential shift in shopping centers’ social media strategy.  The number of fans and followers will not continue to grow rapidly for shopping centers as the industry’s social media presence matures.  As the number of fans and followers plateaus and stabilizes, continuing to flood news feeds with untargeted advertising will exhaust the pool of maximum recipients.  In order to reduce the threat of removal – or disinterest – the quality of social media content is more critical than ever.

Alexander Babbage’s research on the shopping center industry’s use of social media indicates the number of centers using social media began to plateau in 2013, and some centers have dropped both Facebook and Twitter. However, engagement in social media has increased compared to prior years. A leading contributor to increased engagement is the adoption of smaller social networks such as Instagram and Pinterest. These less cluttered networks provide shopping centers opportunities to connect with their consumers in a more intimate manner through the focused use of pictures, trends and idea sharing. Our research revealed that 292 shopping centers were using Instagram and 155 were using Pinterest at the end of 2013.

According to Jerry Daykin, global digital director at the media agency Carat, ”Social media provides a more cost effective media investment than TV and traditional display.”  For shopping centers with restricted marketing budgets, social media campaigns can be effective when executed properly. But, the social media space should not be viewed as a cheaper alternative advertising channel; rather, it should be viewed as a cost-effective strategic connection with consumers.  With this in mind, the integration of additional social networks – and meaningful, impactful content – should be a priority for shopping centers during 2015.

“Centers of the Retail Universe” – SCT Magazine November 2014

The vast majority of sales are transacted in centers, a report notes, as e-tailers scramble to open stores.

By: Joel Groover

Cover-story-mallWhat’s a landlord to think when headlines like “Are Malls Over?” and “Stores Confront World with Less Foot Traffic” are cropping up on magazine covers, television news reports and in newspaper business sections? Edward Sonshine, CEO of Toronto-based RioCan REIT chalks it up to ignorance and the media’s need for dramatic storytelling.“Nobody over 35 can afford to work as a reporter anymore,” he said at an SCTLive panel discussion in Toronto, in September. “Our story is boring, and the growth of something new is more exciting. It annoys me, but I ignore it, as do investors; the numbers speak for themselves.” Sonshine’s firm owns and manages Canada’s largest portfolio of shopping centers, at 340 properties across 81 million square feet, including 13 million square feet in the U.S. and 16 properties under development.Consumers are ignoring the negative hype as well, visiting malls and other kinds of shopping centers in droves, though how they shop has changed significantly since the birth of the traditional shopping center in the 1950s. Shopping centers are performing well even as they undergo a profound evolution to keep pace with consumer habits, according to a new report by ICSC Research.

“The shopping center industry is vibrant and healthy,” writes Michael P. Kercheval, ICSC president and CEO, in the introduction to Shopping Centers: America’s First and Foremost Marketplace. “We believe [the industry] is poised for unprecedented success going forward — not in spite of e-commerce, but because of it.”

The 18-page report, available at ICSC.org, blends statistical data with big-picture analysis by a host of observers. And the big picture, the authors note, is quite encouraging. With new supply in America’s well-developed markets growing at its slowest pace in some 40 years last year, the relative lack of shopping center construction is restoring the supply-demand balance and helping to shore up occupancy rates. New tenants are likely to lease even more space in the U.S. over these next two years as retailers open an estimated 77,000 stores — a five-year high. Other positive trends include rising demand driven by strong population growth; the opportunity to tailor tenant mix to meet the needs of increasingly important demographic groups such as Hispanics and Millennials; and successful efforts of mall and shopping center landlords to broaden the appeal of their properties, in part through more-creative tenant mix. Growing interest in brick-and-mortar space among formerly online-only retailers such as Athleta, Bonobos, Boston Proper and Warby Parker is also fueling growth. Shoppers at Bonobos’ 10 brick-and-mortar stores spend about twice as much as its online customers, CEO Andy Dunn says. And even Amazon.com reportedly is taking over a building in New York City where customers can pick up orders placed online.

Though the report’s focus is the U.S., the rest of the world can draw sanguine conclusions from it as well. After all, if the shopping center industry is thriving in the most developed market in the world, it follows that things are likely to be equally if not more vibrant in the less developed markets. The physical store remains the primary source of merchandise everywhere as developers all over the world work overtime erecting shopping centers.

Given the ubiquitous story line that e-commerce is killing brick-and-mortar retail, assertions that online sales could actually help the industry might seem counterintuitive. But precisely because online retail offers such an easy and convenient way to buy commoditized goods, its popularity has forced developers to think harder about how to create high-energy experiences at their properties, says Mark Toro, the partner who heads the Atlanta office of Cincinnati-based North American Properties. The long-term effect of this pressure from online retailers is a paradigm shift that will strengthen the industry, he says. “Instead of providing the most convenient, quickest way to shop,” he said, “we’re providing guests with a place to be, which extends dwell times.”

Regional centers will continue to focus on the experiential dimensions of their properties by adding restaurants, entertainment and outdoor spaces and the like, says the ICSC report. Neighborhood centers, by contrast, will keep leveraging convenience. Indeed, convenience-oriented shopping centers still dominate the industry. As of January 2014, they accounted for roughly 100,000, or 88 percent, of the shopping center properties in the U.S., the report notes. “Those centers provide local consumer needs — grocery, dry cleaners, barbers, community banking, shipping services and thousands of other services of which the vast majority do not compete with non-store channels,” says the report.

Meanwhile, the trend toward integrating retail with nonretail uses will continue to evolve. North American Properties’ Avalon mixed-use project is an example. The first phase of this $600 million property opened in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta last month. The 500,000-square-foot retail component brims with bars and restaurants, fashion boutiques, service providers and fitness and lifestyle tenants, plus a Whole Foods market. North American Properties has encouraged retailers at Avalon to make maximum use of the property’s public spaces, Toro says: Lululemon is free to conduct yoga classes outdoors on the plaza, and sporting-goods retailer Orvis may teach fly-fishing in the Avalon fountain. “Today your customer can buy stuff sitting in traffic or putting on her makeup,” Toro said. “But humans are social animals. If we want to have an experience, we have to go to a public space and commune. That is what people are craving, because they are so isolated in their online worlds.”

The ICSC report seeks to place the challenge posed by those online worlds in perspective. The report’s authors cite several sources to paint the Internet as an ally of brick-and-mortar retailers, not an enemy to be feared. On average, they note, omni-channel customers tend to shop three times more frequently and to spend three-and-a-half times more than do single-channel shoppers. “The Internet and e-commerce are providing consumers and retailers with brand-new tools that enhance the shopping experience and ultimately drive sales in stores,” Kercheval writes. “The retailers that survive and thrive will be those who are best able to seamlessly integrate the physical and virtual channels.”

And yet the brick-and-mortar store still enjoys certain advantages over the screen: In-store conversion rates continue to be four times higher than online-only conversion rates, the authors note: “Consumers still prefer in-store shopping. Ninety-four percent of total retail spending happens within the four walls of a physical store.” (Last year online retail sales came to some $263 billion — only 6 percent of total retail sales, according to the U.S. Commerce Department; in-store sales accounted for all the rest — some $4.3 trillion in total.) But why is in-store spending still so popular if shopping online is supposed to be so much easier and more efficient? A survey conducted by ICSC and research firm Alexander Babbage in April sought to find out. Asked to cite some of the most important factors influencing their decisions to shop in stores rather than buying merchandise online, nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they wanted to touch or try on the merchandise before buying; nearly 60 percent said it was easier to find items inside a physical store, and an equal percentage said they like being able to combine shopping with other errands. About 40 percent described shopping with friends and family as a fun activity. The report cites other studies emphasizing the symbiotic benefits of those omni-channel strategies that retailers and developers alike are pursuing now.

Of course, none of this is to suggest that all shopping centers are bound to succeed moving forward. “The world is littered with dying or dead retail centers — enclosed regional malls, strip centers and others that the world has passed by,” Toro said. But even these have been replaced by better shopping centers, not by the Internet. Smart strategies continue to enable the owners of well-located properties to ramp up their productivity. Retail REITs in particular have maintained strong property performance amid the challenges of the Internet age, thanks largely to savvy management, according to Brad Case, senior vice president of research and industry information at NAREIT. “The REIT industry as a whole has produced returns averaging nearly 11 percent per year for more than 20 years,” said Case, “and yet retail REITs have produced returns averaging 11.82 percent per year — even better than an industry that has done very well overall.” This compares to average annual returns of just 8.65 percent for institutionally owned (i.e., non-REIT) retail properties on an unlevered basis, Case says. “Some of that difference can be attributed to the fact that REITs use leverage, but not all of it,” he said. “It’s not enough to sit back and wait for rents to come in. If you do, the Internet may just eat your lunch. What retail REITs have done is use the Internet, and everything else available, to optimize the experience and entice consumers to spend in their tenants’ stores.”

And at properties of all types and sizes, reinvestment continues to reap dividends as well, whether that involves a new facade for a neighborhood center, or a grand expansion at a regional mall. Mall of America, already the biggest retail and entertainment destination in the country, announced in March a $325 million expansion, the most significant construction project at that property since 1992. This expansion, slated to open next August, will include high-end retailers, a 342-room hotel, an office tower, new dining options, a tourist welcome center and an event space.

Meanwhile Simon announced in January that 25 redevelopment and expansion projects were under way at its properties in the U.S., Asia and Mexico, at a cost of about $1.1 billion. One such project is the redevelopment of the firm’s Roosevelt Field, in Garden City, N.Y., which is to include the addition of a Neiman Marcus.

Other reinvestment projects are all about experimentation. As Kercheval observes in the ICSC report, the demand for a “third place” alternative to the home or the office is strong among U.S. consumers. Toward that end Westfield in October announced plans to create just such a third place: the 35,000-square-foot Bespoke, at Westfield San Francisco Centre. Its shared work spaces for entrepreneurs will include dedicated and shared desks as well as private offices, plus 14 conference rooms and more. The so-called demo area will be for playing about with the latest gizmos in a space rich with touch surfaces, digital walls and the like. The 18,000-square-foot event space will offer digital screens and other high-tech infrastructure. Bespoke opens in the spring.

But anyone thus wishing to raise the bar and redesign properties with a view to the future faces a formidable task, according to Roy Higgs, president of an eponymous design firm in the Baltimore area. “The most meaningful customer experience is often defined, at least initially, by the look or feel of the shopping center,” he said.

Attempts to capture the nostalgia of Main Street can be formulaic and stale, Higgs says. By contrast, treating the shopping center as a form of theater — backdrop, scenery, lighting and other dramatic elements — can help create the kind of place where people want to see and be seen, he says.

Urban sites have an advantage when it comes to leveraging lively public spaces, says Steve Backman, president of Tempe, Ariz.–based Cardon Development Group. Focused on public-private partnerships, Backman, who collaborated with partner Don Cardon on the CityScape mixed-use project in downtown Phoenix, says even interior-facing malls from the 1980s can make significant improvements by breaking up their cyclopean architecture. “The problem malls face as they seek to make a connection with the public is that they’re surrounded by such large seas of parking,” Backman said. “It is tough. But you do see malls that used to be bleak, fortress-looking buildings from the outside now turning spaces inside out.”

As Higgs sees it, U.S. developers could learn from the multilevel, mixed-use properties that are commonplace around the globe. Many of these include innovative entertainment, recreation and amusement uses that enliven the overall experience, he says. “From a merchandising standpoint, there can be no doubt that food-and-beverage is a key component for consideration to achieve a fulfilling customer experience,” he said. “In this regard, shopping center development overseas is, in many ways, ahead of developments in the United States.” Having just returned from Istanbul, Higgs cites that city’s proliferation of new shopping centers focused heavily on food-and-beverage.

Stateside, the mall sector is not focused exclusively on redevelopments and expansions. Slowly but surely, new malls are popping up around the country. Among the latest is The Mall at University Town Center, an 880,000-square-foot collaboration in Sarasota, Fla., between Taubman Centers and Benderson Development Co. Billed as a “beautiful, tech-savvy and shopper-friendly facility,” this two-level, enclosed mall opened last month with about 100 specialty stores and restaurants, half of which are unique to the market. Anchors include Dillard’s, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Befitting today’s emphasis on context and complementary uses, the mall is part of a larger development with retail, dining, hotel and office space, and a rowing-competition facility. “The Sarasota market is currently underserved from a retail standpoint,” said COO William S. Taubman. “UTC will fill a long-standing shopping void in the local market.”

When the Taubman-operated City Creek Center mall made its debut in Salt Lake City in March 2012, it made headlines as the first major regional mall to open in the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown. The mall reportedly made $200 million in its first nine months of operation. The recession and real estate collapse had forced Howard Hughes Corp. to nix plans for a new mall in Las Vegas, but in October The Shops at Summerlin Centre finally opened for business. The 106-acre, 1.6 million-square-foot project contains 85 stores and restaurants. Like University Town Center, it is part of a larger mixed-use development. Meanwhile, Triple Five Group is moving ahead with its ambitious American Dream Meadowlands project, in the Meadowlands Sports Complex, East Rutherford, N.J. Construction crews are reportedly at work there on a makeover of the existing structure. The project, formerly known as Meadowlands Xanadu and owned by The Mills Corp. and others, stalled during the recession and sat dormant for five years. Today Triple Five’s plans for the multibillion-dollar project, which is slated to open in the fall of 2016, include about 300 stores, a 639,000-square-foot water and amusement park, an indoor ice rink, an indoor ski and snowboard park, a 26-screen movie theater and a concert hall.

The ICSC authors cite four reasons for continued optimism about shopping center performance: Shopping centers serve an economic and social need; experimentation with new formats, designs and technologies is aimed at yielding stronger shopping center performance; shopping centers are increasingly complementary to nonstore shopping; and shopping centers satisfy a range of consumer needs and desires. With all that being said, the authors are also frank about the need for retail properties to adapt to change.

“This transformation in the industry is bringing about one of the most exciting eras in the history of the shopping center,” the report concludes. “To paraphrase the often-cited retailer Allen Questrom, CEO and board member of several major retailers over his career, if the shopping center did not exist, we would be scrambling to invent it.”

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