April 28, 2004

Retailers Look ‘Off Mall’

"Department store operators are starting to shift from their mall bases to more freestanding stores, a strategy that offers more flexibility in opening stores and tries to capitalize on changing consumer shopping preferences," USA Today reports.

Apparently, increasing numbers of shoppers are discovering that they don't like the experience of parking in enormous asphalt lots and then taking an unappealing walk through pedestrian-hostile space to the mall, where they then have to wade through a crowded, artificially created space to get to their destination.

Bloomingdale's, for example, just opened a store in New York's SoHo neighborhood, "a densely populated area made trendy in recent years as former warehouses have been converted to boutiques, restaurants and other shops."

Shoppers probably have to walk MORE in such areas to get to the stores they want -- but the walking is a much more pleasant experience than going through a mall parking lot.

Downtown-type retail areas with pleasant walking ambiance and a true sense of place are making a comeback. See areas like Waltham and Somerville locally for evidence. Is Framingham finally ready to take advantage?

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