Reinvented Malls are Thriving in 2020: Here’s How Your Retail Business Can Adapt, Too

Posted on May 4, 2020 by Bud Morris

Reinvented Malls are Thriving in 2020: Here’s How Your Retail Business Can Adapt, Too

Posted on May 4, 2020 by Bud Morris

The run-of-the-mill mall no longer stands up to the competition of reinvented malls, but how can retailers adapt to stand out?

“You see the mall? It’s empty.” These are the words spoken by a small business owner in a recent Washington Post article, and they’re words that reflect thousands of malls and shopping centers all over the world. In our digital age, malls, as we know them, are dying out. Shoppers no longer have the need, or the desire, to run to the mall to grab small items nor coveted products.

By 2022, it’s predicted that 20-25% of malls will close, and for many cities across North America, that prophecy is already coming true. Malls that aren’t offering visitors more than they bargained for from a customer experience and versatility perspective are doomed to become relics, but this isn’t the case for all malls. 

In fact, some malls are booming, and it’s not due simply to location, accessibility or even the market. It’s due to reinvention. When malls refuse to change, they’re quickly replaced or supplanted by those that provide an unparalleled experience that traditional malls have failed to foster. 

But what does this ‘reinvention’ mean, and how can retailers take advantage?

What is a mall reinvention? 

Malls can no longer simply be a place to shop; they need to be a hub for unexpected and memorable experiences. The ones that are thriving have managed to integrate lifestyle and retail with local businesses, housing and recreational. 

Whereas malls have often defaulted to adding cinemas or arcades to keep up with changes in customer demand for entertainment and retail, thriving malls have taken this to a new level by working with restaurants, real estate and more, tying it all into retail that fits well with the need to create truly unique experiences, whether that’s through the nature of retail businesses, the selection, and variety, or the hybrid model of fusing living with retail. 

Think: malls that have luxury condos on top levels, or apartment complexes that have exclusive retail, recreation, and restaurant/hospitality services all in the same convenient location. 

For retailers operating outside of these thriving, reinvented malls, however, you may feel that all-too-familiar fear of missing out. But you can ride the wave of success that continues to grow around reinvented malls. 

We’re sharing five actionable approaches you can consider when thinking of capitalizing on this growing trend!

Look at potential expansion opportunities

If your goal is to continue consistently growing your retail footprint, joining a reinvented, hybrid mall could be one simple and convenient way of opening and testing another retail location, especially if the mall is in a neighborhood or city you’ve yet to explore or expand into. 

Collaborate with fellow local retailers

The days of competing against other businesses in the same mall are gone – businesses that are willing to collaborate and share ideas to create the experience visitors are looking for are much more likely to succeed. If it makes sense for your business, consider collaborating with other local retailers to join a new mall or complex where your retail stores can complement one another’s services and product offerings.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

As a retailer, finding the right location for a physical retail location is tantamount, which means moving into a hybrid mall may not be an option you can pursue right now. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your brand or store into a hybrid mall. 

For example, if you have a limited-edition product or range that can be sold in other stores, you might consider partnering with an existing store that can wholesale your products or do partnered pop-ups in their hybrid mall location. It’s a simple yet effective way of gaining exposure in those areas without moving ‘shop’ or opening a new location for the expansion’s sake. 

Experimenting in this way will also help you determine whether there’s a need for your product or brand in a hybrid mall, and if there is, you may just find yourself looking for the next reinvented mall to get into!


We help retail businesses innovate their spaces and bring customer experiences to life – we don’t believe in simply displaying your products; we research and understand every aspect of your business and industry and create spaces that are truly remarkable. As a forward-thinking business ourselves, we know what it takes to take an innovative retail design from concept to reality. Discover how we can help you do just that by contacting our expert team today.

What’s the future of retail?

Malls, as we know them, are changing. And many are changing not only to serve customers but to serve retailers, now and into the future. As the way we shop continues to change and evolve, retailers and malls have to find unique ways to adapt to consumer needs. Many malls across Canada are reinventing themselves not just for the short-term needs of consumers, but for long-term demand, thinking ahead for the future of retail.

Explore the future of retail for both malls and retailers alike in our white paper, “Reinvention: The Saviour of Canadian Malls?”.