Need for Customer Engagement, Sense of Belonging Turns Traditional Shopping Center Paradigm on Its Head
Gathering spaces and food are changing the format of the physical shopping environment, say retail architects and designers who are being tasked with creating new designs for older shopping centers and new retail-oriented projects.
“Retail projects are requiring a different approach as far as what they mean to the customer anymore,” says Sy Perkowitz, principal with KTGY in Irvine, Calif.
“What we want is something that is an attraction; something that brings you out to the retail center as opposed to Internet shopping or other activities that you may be involved in,” explains Perkowitz, “The need to be physically present at a retail project has changed. It used to be out of necessity, and today it’s more about wanting to be there because you’re interested in communicating with other people face-to-face.”
As a result, retail developers are incorporating more places for people to socialize in shopping centers, whether that is restaurants, outdoor dining areas or public gathering spaces at shopping centers, something that used to be taboo in retail design.