Retailtainment trends: Report shows entertainment boom in malls

An ICSC report showing that the retailtainment trend – entertainment in retail environments – is becoming increasingly important for malls’ success in the US.

The study found that in US malls between Q1 2010 and Q1 2019, entertainment square footage grew by 44.7%.

Key types of entertainment include cinemas, arcades, bowling, dining and, increasingly, active entertainment like trampoline parks, rides and escape rooms.

Escape rooms in particular have seen a huge increase growing from two dozen facilities at the end of 2014 to more than 2,300 through Q2 2018.

The report asserts that mall operators’ interest in entertainment tenants has stimulated the creation of companies like Gameworks and Two Bit Circus, who are innovating in the space.

In addition existing companies are diversifying their offering, for example Dave & Buster’s adding entertainment, and cinema evolving with chains like Cinergy adding rides and dining.

Consumers are thought to be looking for more value from their entertainment in terms of the experience itself. And Millennials are the age group most likely to spend their money in mall-based entertainment.

ICSC retailtainment brands

Technology and retailtainment

Retailtainment technology is seen as having a huge impact, with voice technology, e-commerce solutions and AI important. New technologies like AR and VR offer potential for retail and entertainment. However, with increasingly sophisticated at-home entertainment, there are risks to be negotiated in creating a cutting edge,high tech entertainment offerings.

Social media drives “conspicuous leisure” (enhancing status by sharing moments of personal happiness). New high tech experiences may be seen as one-offs to be enjoyed and shared but not revisited.

Companies are therefore encouraged to look for ways to ensure repeatibility in their experiences, for example by including more interactivity.

And the conclusion:

“In the past, entertainment tenants were a constant but subsidiary presence in center tenant mixes. Now, they are far more prominent and diverse … they are critical in landlords’ plans to transform their properties from consumer to community centers. But a host of leasing and operational factors need to be considered before these new tenants can be optimally integrated into these revamped tenant mixes.”

Image: Gameworks