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Although I happen to hate shopping, I do sometimes find myself at a mall in need of a small item that I need relatively quickly or for a last minute Christmas gift for one of my family members that I inevitably forgot. While I may do this occasionally I would say the majority of my shopping is done purely online and usually from the comfort of my own home. That is one of the largest factors behind the decline in mall and face-to-face retail shopping. The pure availability and usually better price options that are available online provide consumers with so many substitutes for different products make shopping online easier and cheaper than shopping in person. Another luxury provided by online shopping is the near unlimited availability of products. Even if one online store doesn’t have a product in stock there is a very good chance that some other online retailer has the product in stock and available for purchase. Finally, Internet retailers don’t have the high overhead costs associated with up keeping a walk-in storefront and paying employees to man it as well as the loss prevention costs associated with retail sales. Though online retailers have to pay for logistic chains to move their products across the country, they don’t have that added cost of a retail business that provides consumers with stock on the shelves. Stocking retail locations is also a large problem and forms a relationship with the idea of limited quantities of the products they sell. With all of this said, it is impossible to say that malls are doomed as the market shifts towards Internet sales.
With the uptick Internet sales and the staggering decline in mall shoppers in the past few years, it is very difficult to make an argument that malls and retail shopping in a traditional sense will vanish. The simple convenience of being able to walk into a store and walk out mere minutes later with the item that you were in search of is unmatchable on the online front. Another advantage malls will always have over online shopping is the ability to preview a product before purchasing it. I don’t know that many golfers that would order a set of clubs that they have never felt before as feel is such a large thing in the game of golf. That said it is much easier to walk into a Dick’s Sporting Goods (for example) and swing a few sets of irons than it is to order a set online, try them and then return them in a shipped box if they were not what you happened to be looking for in that set. Also the idea of sizing clothes or shoes comes to mind, many different brands have sizes that fit everyone slightly differently so the ability to go to a place like a mall and try on a number of different sizes in a shoe you may be looking to purchase is very important. Although companies like Zappos have attractive offers like free return shipping, if the option is there to try the right size on the first time and walk out with it just minutes later, I would be willing to spend a few more dollars rather than waiting almost a week for a return and reissue process to deliver a different size shoe to my doorstep. It is these benefits that will keep malls and in person retail shopping alive in this country.
My favorite shopping mall is probably the Palisades in West Nyack, New York. It is very near to my grand mothers house and is definitely still open and is even growing the last I had seen. To keep it growing and thriving as a mall itself I would try to incorporate the ince rink that is attached to the mall and make it a more commercialized and consumer friendly venue rather than the rather dark, hockey centric rink that it exists as now. I believe that if that were to happen people would spend more time in the mall and as many statistics show, the more amount of time people spend in a retail location, the more likely they are to spend more money. With that in place and perhaps some concessions or food vendors outside the rink for people to refuel at after skating, it is possible to get more traffic within the mall and it’s already popular layout of stores and food providers.
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