Malls lure shoppers with ice rinks, parades and holiday glitz

Landlords and retailers hope events lead to impulse buys

Mall Christmas decorations
Mall Christmas decorations

Eager to attract customers during the make-or-break holiday shopping season, mall owners and landlords are pulling out all the stops with temporary ice rinks, Santa parades and baking classes.

Knowing that most shoppers avoid brick-and-mortar stores in favor of online deals, landlords hope that by getting creative, shoppers end up making impulse purchases.

That’s different than in years past, when Black Friday deals, for example, were enough to draw in shoppers.

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“We don’t see those long lines at 3 AM anymore,” said Barbara Garrett, general manager of a mixed-use project Atlantic Station in Atlanta, which has a seasonal ice skating rating and held a Santa parade. But “if I can get you here, you’re most likely to visit other stores or stay and watch a movie,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

The paper reported that it’s common for retailers to ask landlords for new lights or fresh paint before Black Friday. This year, work orders were up 8 percent to 10 percent compared to 2016, according to Bill Hayden, CEO of facilities management company FacilitySource.

Attracting those shoppers isn’t cheap. Individual malls often spend $150,000 to $500,000 on holiday decorations, said Greg Maloney, chief executive officer of JLL’s retail business in the Americas. But retailers see the potential payoff in projected shopping stats for the season. This year, 164 million people nationwide plan to shop over the Thanksgiving weekend, up from 154.4 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation. [WSJ]E.B. Solomont