Malls need to diversify to become destinations for shoppers, say experts

Montreal – The rise of online shopping is forcing Canadian shopping malls to become destinations that offer entertainment, services and sporting venues in addition to traditional clothing stores, a real estate conference heard Tuesday.

Shoppers of all ages, but particularly millennials, are seeking places to meet others and enjoy new experiences and malls can deliver that venue, says Emeka Mayes, director of acquisitions for First Capital Realty, which has 161 properties in four provinces.

She says it’s important for malls not to just fill empty stores, but think long-term by having a good mix of tenants that will drive traffic.

That includes adding day-care centres, medical facilities, gyms, grocery stores, entertainment and sporting venues.

In effect, malls have to become more interesting as more people turn to the Internet to shop, says real estate consultant Eric Foster.

While some large mall owners are investing in changes, he says considerable spending is required because many properties in urban centres like Montreal are more than 40 years old.

The Canadian Press

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