Can food save malls?

The Lempert Report
October 13, 2014

Can a refocus on food and a redesign of your usual food court offer the American mall the bright future they need?

We believe that a malls’ foodservice should mirror the kind of shopping sensibilities of the modern customer. For example; bold sensory appeals (visual, smell), whimsy (unusually named food items), health (fresh ingredients), local tastes (regional favorites, craft brews) and seasonal relevance – to make eating there more fun and a destination of its own.  And who better to provide this?  Restaurateurs from nearby neighborhoods, who would benefit from the extra traffic and whose names are familiar to the mall’s hungry shoppers.

The sooner malls capture the vitality of independent food entrepreneurs, the livelier their spaces will be and the more refreshed shoppers will feel. Just as people flock to independent apparel stores that bring unique fashions, they settle in nicely with local eatery favorites. This is a cool way to reward local innovation and keep circulating money within the local community too.  

Also, food courts can be used to appeal to the modern shopper and their love for mobile technology!

For example, mall operators that empower WiFi and retail promotion incentives sent to shopper cell phones in eating areas can add to productivity. According to Yahoo Finance, a food court generates $700 in sales per square foot vs. $250-$450 for an apparel retail. Clearly there’s huge potential for malls when it comes to food, and from inviting in popular local eateries as food-court tenants and inspirers might just be the answer to a very bright future.