Malls across America are wringing their proverbial hands as more shoppers stay home rather than brave long lines and uncertain deals at their local malls. Black Friday was a day of particular anxiety for brick-and-mortar proprietors, as months of reports told them not to expect big crowds during the "official" start of the holiday shopping season.
However, one mall in New Jersey experienced what can only be described as a retail miracle: bigger crowds during Black Friday.
The Record, a local North Jersey paper, reported that the Mall at Short Hills, a 30-minute drive from Manhattan, saw increased foot traffic during extended operating hours on Black Friday. Mike McAvinue, general manager of the property, told The Record that the mall's parking lot was filled with more than 6,000 cars by 10:20 a.m.
"We typically don't fill all those spots until noon, but on Friday, customers came out sooner than later," McAvinue said. "Customers were eager to see what was on sale and start their holiday shopping."
While the evidence for a resurgence of in-store activity is circumstantial at best, McAvinue did note that the retailers at this particular mall may create a reason for shoppers to actually get off of their couches and into the stores. The Mall at Short Hills houses several high-profile luxury brands, including Kate Spade New York, Gucci, Cartier and Burberry. According to McAvinue, these high-margin items require a little more of a hands-on approach.
"Most of the time, if it's an expensive item, they want to feel and touch it, and that's what we offer, instead of buying something off of a photograph," McAvinue told The Record.
Replacing discount brands with luxury ones in malls might be an extreme solution to the problem of waning in-store traffic, but if it's brick-and-mortar retailers' only chance to survive, what other choices do they have?