Step into a shopping centre and prepare to embark on a journey beyond mere retail therapy. These vibrant spaces have evolved into so much more than just places to shop. They have transformed into lifestyle precincts, bustling community hubs where connections are forged, experiences are shared, and meaningful relationships are built.
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, online shopping accelerated, reshaping the landscape of physical retail. The demand for memorable experiences, especially among younger generations, skyrocketed.
And now, as we brace ourselves for an economic downturn, shopping centre teams may find themselves at a crossroads, compelled to reimagine their purpose and attract and retain customers in innovative ways. They must create environments that meet the needs of the local community lifestyle and go beyond shopping to foster a true sense of community and social interaction.
Intrigued by this challenge, we dove deep into the realm of shopping centres.
We analyzed the neighbourhoods of the top 10 and bottom 10 Mini Gun shopping centres (ranked by Shopping Centre News – MAT per square meter) using the Neighbourlytics platform.
Our goal? To unravel the four Urban Life themes (People, Lifestyle, Habits & Amenities) behind the success of these top performers, uncover the habits currently driving visitation, and help shopping centre teams harness these invaluable insights to optimise their performance, even in the face of an economic downturn.
Here’s what we found.
Top Mini Gun centres have:
Hospitality driving activity levels
The neighbourhoods of top centres have experienced a surge in activity levels within the hospitality sector, as individuals embrace and relish dining experiences offered by various venues in the local community. Meanwhile, retail activity has experienced a contraction of activity over the past 12 months, facing challenges amidst changing consumer preferences and shifting market dynamics.
Strong visitation every day of the week
The neighbourhoods surrounding top-ranked Mini Guns shopping centres demonstrate an ability to attract visitors consistently throughout the entire week. Unlike many other areas where activity tends to decrease over the weekends, these neighbourhoods maintain a steady level of engagement and footfall, indicating a robust and enduring appeal.
This sustained activity is a testament to the compelling strengths and anchors present in these neighbourhoods. By closely studying and understanding where people choose to spend their time, we gain valuable insights into the factors that contribute to their continuous engagement. These insights provide a foundation for assessing the existing strengths of the neighbourhoods, identifying any gaps or shortcomings, and determining the areas that require prioritized investment and development in the future.
Strong night-time economy
The top ten ranked shopping centres have neighbourhoods that have successfully cultivated thriving night-time economies within their surrounding neighbourhoods. These centres have strategically utilised the hospitality sector to stimulate activity and create a vibrant atmosphere during evening hours. By offering a diverse range of dining options, entertainment venues, or recreational facilities, these shopping centres have effectively transformed into lively destinations that attract a significant number of visitors even after regular business hours.
The strong night-time economy of these top-ranked shopping centres brings several advantages. Firstly, it extends the operational hours of various businesses within the centres, providing increased revenue opportunities for retailers, restaurants, and entertainment establishments. This extended trading period allows businesses to cater to the needs and preferences of a broader customer base, including those who are busy during the day or prefer to engage in leisure activities during the evening.
Additionally, the presence of a vibrant night-time economy in these shopping centres contributes to the overall attractiveness and desirability of the surrounding neighbourhoods. Residents and visitors alike are more likely to be drawn to areas that offer a diverse range of evening entertainment options, creating a positive feedback loop that further enhances the economic and social vitality of the community.
On the other hand, lower-ranked shopping centres face a distinct challenge when it comes to developing a strong night-time economy. These centres often lack the necessary evening attractors that can support supermarket trade beyond the typical 5 pm closing time. Due to the absence or limited presence of hospitality establishments, such as restaurants, bars, or entertainment venues, these centres struggle to provide compelling reasons for people to visit and engage in activities after regular business hours.
Consequently, the limited evening offerings in lower-ranked shopping centres can lead to a decrease in foot traffic and a decline in trade during the evening hours. The lack of diversification can result in missed opportunities for retailers and other businesses within these centres to capitalise on potential customers seeking convenience or leisure activities outside of traditional working hours.
To improve the performance and attractiveness of lower-ranked shopping centres, it becomes crucial to focus on developing their night-time economies. By investing in hospitality infrastructure and encouraging the establishment of restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues, these centres can create a more engaging and dynamic environment. This, in turn, would foster increased footfall and longer operating hours for businesses, providing a positive economic impact for the entire centre and its surrounding community.
Local and loyal catchment
Residents living in the suburbs surrounding top-performing shopping centres exhibit a preference for staying local when it comes to their daily activities. On average, these residents tend to travel approximately 5km within their local area to meet their various needs.
This trend of local engagement can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, the presence of a top-performing shopping centre in close proximity provides residents with convenient access to a wide range of amenities, including retail stores, grocery options, entertainment venues, and services. With such a comprehensive offering available nearby, residents find little reason to venture further away for their day-to-day activities.
However, it is important to note that there is one outlier among the group, namely Sunnyside Mall, which stands out due to the longer average travel distance of 9.49km. This can be attributed to the geographic location of the suburb of Murwillumbah in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales (NSW). Murwillumbah is situated inland, and its residents tend to travel a greater distance to visit the coastal suburb of Tweed Heads, which offers additional attractions and amenities such as the beach and waterfront dining, not available within their immediate local area.
In the neighbourhoods of lower-ranked shopping centres, residents travel an average of 7km out of the suburb – and in some instances even further – indicating a potential gap in the local amenity offer which the [mini guns] should position themselves to fill.
Understanding where residents in the area are going can help you identify the types of amenities and attractions that might be needed to keep more people spending locally and spending time locally in the area.
Diverse amenity mix
The more dynamic and robust the local economy is, the more job opportunities are available, and the local businesses are thriving. This, in turn, can lead to higher property values and a better standard of living for residents.
The neighbourhoods of top-ranked shopping centres exist within an ecosystem that has a diversity of amenities to support local needs providing opportunities to attract local people to visit and stay in the neighbourhood with a higher prevalence of health & wellness businesses, transit services and hospitality (such as an adjacent Tavern) driving additional visitation.
The neighbourhoods of lower-ranked shopping centres have an opportunity to optimise their amenity mix to keep residents local and attract a wider catchment. Activity is limited to particular times of the day or week, reducing their overall appeal and economic resilience. This is really important as many lower-ranked shopping centres have high competition in the surrounding catchment area.
Opportunity to enhance activation
The analysis of activity levels across all shopping centres in the Mini Guns ranking identified various opportunities to increase visitation. Activity levels for Community, Arts & Culture and Public Space were below average and with more focus can unlock the potential for future growth.
Significant uplifts in retail and hospitality performance can be achieved with the presence of major arts and cultural events that enliven public and shared spaces. These events not only attract visitors but also create a positive impact on the overall business ecosystem.
To harness the full potential, collaboration with key stakeholders in the local community and involvement of community groups is essential.
By developing a comprehensive place activation program in partnership with the community, you can cultivate an inclusive and vibrant community within each shopping centre, fostering an environment that encourages growth and resilience.
Let’s unlock the secrets of your local community together – here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Select your focus shopping centre
Understand which shopping centre/s you would like to focus on and/or your key competitors in the catchment area.
Step 2: Reach out to the Neighbourlytics team
Book a time with us to capture the local community area and provide you with access to insights. You can book a time to meet here:
Step 3: Insights Dashboard walkthrough
When your Insights Dashboard is ready, we’ll walk you through the key visitation patterns, strengths, gaps and opportunities so you can diagnose new activation opportunities.
Step 4: Identify key stakeholders for collaboration
Use the Stakeholder Mapping tool to quickly identify the most relevant and valued community organisations, services, retailers and hospitality venues in a catchment area.
This tool will help you prioritise community stakeholders and create a hyper-local community and activation strategy that resonates with locals. You can filter by category and download a csv file list with contact details.
Step 5: Leverage the insights to develop your strategy
Create immediate, short-term and long-term actions.
Step 6: Implement your strategy
This could involve implementing new service initiatives, hosting events, or collaborating with local organisations and businesses.
Step 7: Track your progress
Track your progress by recapturing data sets every three to six months. This will help you understand the impact of your efforts and identify changes in local lifestyle habits and visitation as the market shifts so you can adjust your strategy accordingly.
By taking the above steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a more dynamic and engaged community that supports the success of your shopping centre.