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Malls are fed up of their “mallrats” image, want to expand into community hubs

Excerpt from U-T San Diego

Skift Take

Malls have been under pressure along with the rest of the retail industry during the economic downturn and flight to digital, and this expansion is a desire to create better experiences to lure back customers.

— Rafat Ali

Shopping malls want to be Starbucks…In the same way that coffee shops transcended the idea of selling caffeinated beverages to become community hubs, malls want to transcend shopping and become the place where everyone — and not just teenagers — comes to meet, socialize or get some work done.

Five San Diego County malls recently unveiled multimillion-dollar renovations that introduced new, socially oriented seating arrangements, upgraded food courts and dining options and free Wi-Fi — all intended to make malls a destination place to spend non-shopping time…the greatest changes may be in the food courts, which no longer resemble the kind of fast food cafeterias typically associated with malls.

The Chula Vista Center and Fashion Valley Mall both feature.. “living room vignettes” — cushioned chairs and couches set apart from the flow of foot traffic by plants, and facing each other in more intimate arrangements than an old-school bench.

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