Rumors of the mall’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, a recent study shows shoppers are spending more time at the mall than they have in years — not only to shop, but also for entertainment, dining out and socializing. Sure, we’re about to enter the time of year when mall traffic is heaviest — back-to-school season and the winter holidays — but malls are enjoying consistent, solid traffic all year long. How can you take advantage of that traffic and attract more shoppers to your store? Here’s what you need to know.
More Visits, More Time, More Spending
Spurred by the rise of online shopping, major mall developers have been investing money to improve the mall experience, attract more customers and keep them there longer — and it’s working. Nearly three in 10 shoppers in the survey (28 percent) say they are visiting malls more often today compared to two years ago. In the coveted 18-to-44 age group, 40 percent are spending more time at the mall than they did two years ago. Overall, the average shopper spends 2 hours and 42 minutes on each mall trip, and visits 6.1 stores during that time.
The amount of money consumers spend during each shopping trip has grown, too, hitting the highest average it’s been in four years. The number of shoppers spending $100-plus each visit has risen by 12 percent since 2011, and 82 percent of shoppers say they plan to spend the same amount or more at malls this year compared to last year.
How to Attract Customers to Your Mall Store
The typical mall trip starts with a purpose — some 81 percent of shoppers say they visit the mall with a specific plan to make a purchase. However, once they’re inside, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) also browse. That’s your opportunity to capture their attention. Here’s how:
1. Think mobile: While at the mall, shoppers spend a lot of time on their smartphones. Nearly six in 10 use their phones to contact friends and get their opinions of possible purchases. Fifty-eight percent use their phones to look at product information and 56 percent use them to compare prices. Those under age 45 are the group most likely to use mobile coupons — 66 percent use their phones for this purpose. Since shoppers are constantly interacting with their smartphones, consider using SMS messaging to reach out to them with special offers and discounts. Ask customers if they want to sign up to receive text messages from your store. Text messaging solutions can use geo-fencing to target customers within a certain radius of your store, or geo-conquesting to target customers within a certain radius of your competitors. Text messages can be a great way to remind regular customers to stop by even if they haven’t come to the mall specifically to visit your store.
2. Know your audience: Teens are most likely to visit the mall on weekends, as are men. Women are more likely to visit Monday through Thursday than men are, and shoppers age 55 and up are more likely to visit Monday through Thursday than younger consumers are. For all age groups, most visits take place in the afternoon and early evening. Knowing when your target customer base is likely to visit can help you create promotions or events to attract them. For instance, a bookstore could hold a storytelling hour targeting parents of young children during daytime hours Monday through Thursday.
3. Piggyback off popular stores: Clothing and fashion accessories are by far the most common products people shop for at the mall: 89 percent of shoppers look for clothes and 67 percent look for fashion accessories. Even if you don’t sell these products, you can benefit from their popularity by handing out samples, flyers or coupons near these stores. Also consider purchasing in-mall advertising near these locations. More than eight out of 10 consumers (83 percent) say they notice eye-level mall advertising, such as lighted display ads, and more than half say this type of advertising is a good way to find out about new products and services offered in the mall.
4. Know how holidays affect shopping patterns: Aside from the winter holidays, Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day draw more men to the mall looking for gifts, while back-to-school and the winter holidays draw more teens purchasing clothes and school supplies. If either of these demographics are your customer base, you can pull out all the stops to attract them during those times.
5. Think beyond shopping: In addition to shopping and browsing, consumers at the mall may also be dining out, attending movies or visiting other entertainment venues such as arcades or bowling alleys. And don’t forget, everyone needs to eat, so many shoppers will hit the food court at some point or another. Advertising or otherwise having a presence near these locations can help your business get the attention of consumers even if they didn’t come to shop.
Check out the full survey results (PDF) for a lot of other interesting information about the behavior and attitudes of other demographics, including Millennials, teens and high-income shoppers.
Shopper Photo via Shutterstock