Art, entertainment and live events are seen as the way forward as Chinese shopping malls seek to entice more people through their portals.
Growth in shopping malls has continued unabated as real estate developers completed 5.75 million square metres of shopping centres in China during 2016.
According to a CBRE report on global retail development, seven Chinese cities are on the world’s top 10 most active global markets for retail property development.
But with an oversupply of shopping malls and the rapid growth of online shopping, China’s physical retailers are finding it tough to become sustainable, profitable ventures.
“In China, department stores reigned supreme in the 1990s and early 2000s, but for the past five or six years, they’ve been on a gradual decline as a result of the rise of e-commerce, overseas shopping and the growing preference for ‘experience-based retail'”, Warner Brown, Associate Director of Research at JLL told That’s Mag.
Chinese shopping malls offer more than retail
He added: “Department stores are less able to adapt to these trends than shopping malls, so it’s no surprise that closures are occurring regularly across China and in markets around the world.”
Rebecca Tibbott, CBRE China’s Head of Advisory & Transaction Services for the Retail sector, sees the future in an experience-based retail – which involve in-person interactions and products that can’t be purchased on the internet.
Malls today are not just a place to buy things, but destinations where people can spend an entire day with family and friends.
The Shanghai K11 Art mall was the first art-themed shopping centre to open on the Chinese mainland.
K11 celebrated its Art Month in March 2017, under the theme of ME: MILLENNIALS, with a series of new media art exhibitions. This included the first exhibition of large-scale sculpture, MOBILE FAWN, complemented with a 9-metre interactive digital garden.
“We did a lot of research, both before and after we opened, to understand who our customers are and what they want,” said a spokesperson for the mall. The brand also has plans to use the strategy of ‘art museum retail’ in Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou and several other Chinese cities in the next few years.