Malls Fight Back

Battling against rumors of impending retirement, or even death, at least one owner isn't going down without a fight to make its malls Internet-proof. Stephanie Clifford examines how Glimcher Realty Trust's novel approach is paying dividends.
July 18, 2012, 11am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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We've heard recently that the era of the mall may be coming to an end. Struggling against the forces of online retailing, changing demographics, and the global recession, the mall's 60-year reign is under siege. This doesn't mean that the country's malls aren't fighting tooth and nail to remain vital, however. Case in point, Scottsdale Quarter in Arizona, where Glimcher Realty Trust has been testing a new strategy to compete with the internet by filling the mall with "businesses that do more than sell stuff." 

According to Clifford, at Scottsdale Quarter, "more than half of the stores offer dining or some other experience that cannot be easily replicated on the Web...While a Scottsdale shopper can buy clothes on the Web, 'she can't go out to lunch with her girlfriends and have a glass of wine and a salad online,' said Michael P. Glimcher, chairman and chief executive. 'She can't get her hair done online. She can't go and make pottery or soap or a cake online.'"

Glimcher's experiments with service- and experience-oriented elements is paying off. "Glimcher's revenue is rising again after a big dip during the recession," notes Clifford. "Its first-quarter sales rose 9 percent to $69.8 million, with the Scottsdale mall a major contributor to the increase. Scottsdale Quarter makes $1,000 per square foot, the highest figure of any Glimcher mall." 

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Published on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 in The New York Times
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