During the pandemic, buyers tended to stay at home rather than venture outside, putting a strain on indoor retail centers. This unexpected shift in buying preferences came as a shock to the system, and with the rise in popularity of e-commerce and curbside pickups, there were many who believed that the retail industry was on the verge of extinction.
That, of course, did not turn out to be the case. With the worst of the pandemic behind us, physical footfall at malls and businesses throughout the country is returning to normal, at least for the time being. As a result, this resurgence of indoor shopping centers presents a lucrative opportunity for anyone wishing to launch a store by profiting off other retailers' hesitation. If this sounds like you, and you’re looking to secure new space in a shopping center, here are four tips to help make your new venture a big success.
For the sake of transparency, let's highlight the inherent risk associated with opening up a store in today's current climate. It should go without saying that the COVID 19 pandemic is bad for business. Even worse, is that it is not one hundred percent over. Until the time when everyone in the world can talk about these events as a time in history rather than a present drama, there will always be a risk for new and current businesses.
The safe strategy is to wait it out and start again some other day. But fortune favors the bold, does it not? The sky is not falling. The potential gains that can be had by getting your business involved in the resurgence of indoor shopping centers are so tangible that it might even be riskier not to get in now while spots are hot. At the end of the day, businesses need to make decisions based on how much risk they are willing to undertake. For some, that means playing it safe and moving with the crowd. For others, it means taking the bull by the horns and securing their store’s spot in a mall in the midst of a comeback.
Using a commercial real estate platform such as Floorly, launching in 2022, to identify available locations in malls is the best way to get started. Floorly simplifies the entire commercial rental process. Using their platform, you can interact with the brokers and agents leasing the property once you've located a prospective mall space for your company. This completely eliminates the middleman.
To begin, first determine the type of space you need, your budget, the start date of your lease, the length of your lease, and any other information that may assist you in narrowing down your search. Simply follow the website's instructions and explore the available selections. You will be able to submit an offer online, view other people's offers and adjust yours accordingly , and also e-sign documents. That's all there is to it.
When choosing a mall for your business, make sure you do research on the present competitors. If your business is a sporting goods store, and the place you have your eye on has five other sporting goods stores, it would likely not make a whole lot of sense to set up shop there unless you’re opening a Dick’s Sporting Goods store and plan to eat up the competition.
It goes without saying that the most difficult part of owning a store in the mall is attracting customers. The best way to do this is to fill a niche, not enter an already saturated market. Also, if there are competitors in the shopping center you decide to move into, be aware of their pricing. If you can afford it, a great way to attract customers in ultra-competitive markets like indoor shopping centers is by offering your goods at a more affordable price - at least while you get a foothold in the market.
According to INRIX, a transportation data company, national mall visitor numbers were up 5% from pre-pandemic levels as of June. However, this does not mean that all malls in the country are up. The Mall of America, the largest mall in the United States, has only 150 of 500 stores open. They also report a 10% decrease in traffic when compared to pre-pandemic traffic in 2019. When researching malls to open up your business in, try to find the places where the comeback is most apparent.
INRIX analyzed hundreds of sites across five metro regions. It discovered that Chicago has witnessed the most improvement in mall visits. From January 2020, it saw an 18% rise. Similar rises were seen in Atlanta and Austin, and New York City reverted to its baseline in June. On the other side of the comeback-meter, Mall visitation in Los Angeles is still down 8% from last year's baseline, which can be attributed to the region's delayed rebuilding process.
Be smart with your research and know your competition. Finding space in a mall right now is easy. The tricky part is choosing the right mall in the right location. It might sound attractive to open up shop somewhere like the Mall of America due to the plethora of vacant spots. Yet, the risk in a movie like this would be a lot more apparent since there are also very few buyers and lackluster footfall figures.
Instead, it’s pertinent to secure your place in a booming mall and reap the rewards from being one of the first shops back in. You will have your pick of the litter for where to put your shop, and it may just be the best decision you ever make.