LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- No one can deny things are changing constantly. It seems like many fun traditions of the past are going by the wayside. Dwindling are the days where malls are top shopping destinations of a community.
Over the last decade, malls across the country have shut their doors and some are blaming millennials. But, have millennials really killed shopping malls? THV11 spoke with millennials and experts about how malls are fighting to stay relevant.
Millennial shopper Kenyatta Hayes says she shops online primarily, but will sometimes come to the mall to spend time with friends.
Courtney Johnson said she still shops at malls because she likes the interaction and ability to try things on.
Beau Bienvenu said he prefers shopping in stores and malls because he likes seeing the products, but noted that his wife loves shopping online.
According to TIME magazine, research estimates have shown that by 2022, one out of every four malls in the U.S. could be out of business. Business Insider says visits to malls have declined by nearly 50 percent.
Marketing Consultant Craig Douglass says he believes many malls will stay open but millennials are forcing them to rethink everything.
“Malls are going to get smaller because millennials do all their comparison shopping online,” said Douglass. “Yet, they would rather go to the stores to feel, touch, smell and have the shopping experience.”
Alicia Easley, Marketing Director for Park Plaza Mall, says sweeping changes are coming to malls.
“Shopping centers everywhere have to evolve and it’s not necessarily just to reach that millennial consumer. Shopping habits in general are changing.”
She said they are bringing in stores that already sell well online with millennials. They recently opened an H&M and at the grand opening day, people waited in line for hours just to be the first to shop. She said the biggest change for malls is adding alternative experiences beyond everyday retail.
Things like restaurants, entertainment, bowling alleys, escape rooms, and other experiences that are new and different. But, not all people think that will work.
Kendall Sandifer, owner of Fringe in Little Rock, is a millennial business owner who purposely chose to open a local clothing store downtown and not in a mall. She said people aren't going to malls because it’s not as fun of an experience.
“People like going outside and not going to a box store,” said Sandifer. “They want to visit a funky, creative small business.”
She says being a millennial business owner has helped her target and connect with young people. She said she has sold a lot of items through social media.
“Instagram has been huge for us and it is great for the millennial crowd. We get them in the store with pictures that are uploaded to Instagram.”
Fringe has also hired local girls to model outfits online.
“We take cute pictures of them, they get excited about the pictures, and then they upload it on their social media which helps us gain followers we might not have. Once you get them in the store through social media, you let them have fun and give them an experience they can’t get a bigger store.”
So, millennials may be impacting the death of malls but that's only half the story. Malls know they have to make changes and many are beginning to implement new ideas. Now, all stores not only have to connect on social media to get millennials inside, but they also have to give them a fun, memorable experience that goes beyond just shopping.