Shopping malls and their stores have been hit hard by the pandemic. Their strength on a commercial level, which was tied to being enclosed spaces that aren’t affected by the weather and that accommodate an extraordinary number of people, has become a weakness because of COVID-19. In fact, because they are potential hotspots for transmission of the virus, they have remained closed in places that the virus was at its worst. But with the “new normal”, they have started to open their doors again.
In this article, we’re going to tell you how shopping malls are managing to avoid COVID-19 and the preventative measures will change the sector forever.
Taking customers’ temperatures, social distancing, and contactless payment
When at the end of April the biggest shopping mall company in the US, Simon Property Group, confirmed that they were ready to re-open 49 shopping malls, nobody was surprised at the changes that their customers were going to experience. One of these was following basic recommendations from health authorities, which prioritised the use of masks, voluntary temperature checks, reduced capacities, and contactless payment – all of which started happening all over the world and look to be temporary.
But the pandemic has been the catalyst for other profound changes that were already taking place, and which seriously threaten the profitability of the shopping mall sector. The most important of these is the increase in online shopping, which has increased exponentially during the pandemic. Many consumers still don’t feel comfortable going out to shop. In order to, overcome this obstacle, stores are starting to offer pick-up services in the parking lots of shopping malls, especially in the US and other countries like India. People can buy online and pick up their purchases in a matter of minutes in the parking lot of their nearest shopping mall. It’s not a panacea, but it has helped.
Streaming and unique experiences
Nevertheless, according to prestigious consulting firm McKinsey, stores will have to reinvent themselves in order to survive. The future will be a mix of online shopping and unique offline experiences. Streaming from inside the store to boost online sales is just one example of what’s around the corner.
These changes will undoubtedly be reflected in the design of and the materials used in new shopping malls that are going to be built over the next few years.