The decline of some big-box retail, like Sears, raises the question of what’s going to become of shopping centers and malls.
Fear not, experts say — they’re just changing.
Northshore Mall is in the middle of extensive renovations that will include outdoor seating and a stage while – at the same time – downtown Beverly has seen a resurgence of new restaurants, retail and other additions.
While the surge in mobile shopping has pushed this shift, it also hints that people don’t want to visit malls or plazas just to shop anymore — they want a destination where they can eat, shop and enjoy some leisure time or activities.
“It’s no secret that there are changes,” said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts. And that change has to do with this idea of consumers being able to live, work, play, utilize different services and participate in activities, all in one place. “I think the evolution is occurring where the shopping areas have to evolve with shopping.”
Shopping now isn’t the same as it was even just a decade ago. Along with offering an all-encompassing destination, many plazas or malls now have new apartment or condominium developments within a short walking distance away.
Some shopping centers also now have gyms, or some form of entertainment, Hurst said.
At Northshore Mall, the entrance to the Food Court will be completely reworked once renovations are complete. Green space will feature different outdoor games for visitors.
“One door closes, another opens,” mall manager Mark Whiting said. “That’s, I think, so true about retail today. If you’re going to stay relevant for the consumer, you have to embrace the consumer’s lifestyle patterns.”
Whiting said some anchors, such as Nordstrom, have a strong online presence that balances with physical stores, he said. The mall likes to find complementary tenants, as well as offer up space to local retailers testing out new concepts.
The mall is also looking to provide consumers with a variety of services and activities, such as Tutti’s Spa or Aloha MIni Glow Golf. The mall is also looking toward car services and banking, Whiting said.
“It’s all about how you can attract the consumer for a wide variety of purposes,” Hurst said.
Around $35 million in renovations have turned parts of the Northshore Mall into a construction zone over the last few months.
Along with the new outdoor dining and performance areas and several new restaurants, the mall is planned to be home to Levels, a new board and video game restaurant and bar, by the end of the year.
It’s a concept you’d not expect at the mall, among big-name restaurants and retailers like The Cheesecake Factory or Macy’s, but it’s planned to offer a variety of video games, from retro to new ones, plus a wide array of board games, and a full…