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Mall of America Leads Push to Unique On-Site Experiences

Mall of America

As shoppers turn to eCommerce channels for convenience, many are still willing to go to brick-and-mortar malls for unique, site-specific experiences.

Seizing on this demand, Mall of America, the largest shopping center in North America, announced Friday (May 17) that it will soon open an on-site game-show-style amusement center, Great Big Game Show, where consumers play the sorts of games they may see broadcast on TV. These include races, trivia competitions and other challenges, with game show accoutrement such as buzzers and a live host.

“This is an exceptional addition to the unique attractions Mall of America has to offer,” Carrie Charleston, vice president of leasing at the shopping center, said in a statement.

Where once consumers looking for convenient, one-stop shopping may have turned to malls to get a range of needs met from a unified location, now those shoppers can turn to eCommerce a quicker, easier experience. As such, traditional brick-and-mortar malls risk losing sales. For instance, the PYMNTS Intelligence report “The Replenish Economy: A Household Supply Deep Dive,” which drew from a survey of more than 2,000 U.S. consumers, revealed that 42% of retail subscribers shop in-store less often because of their subscriptions.

By offering on-site experiences, malls can keep consumers coming back, giving them a reason to visit physical mall locations, which in turn can help drive foot traffic to all retailers in the mall. Plus, experiential offerings encourage shoppers to spend more time on site. When visitors engage in activities such as dining at themed restaurants, attending events or participating in other activities, they are likely to stay longer and consequently may spend more at other retail stores.

Additionally, experiential offerings often provide opportunities for community engagement and social interaction, which can foster a sense of community around the mall — a benefit that is especially enticing to younger consumers, per findings last year from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

The study, entitled “The Rise of the Gen Z Consumer,” revealed that 60% of consumers in this generation report that “even if they don’t need to purchase something specific, they visit malls just to socialize or meet friends,” and 70% report they believe that “retail centers and stores have done a good job designing experiences that offer fun places for Gen Z members to enjoy together.”

In fact, it seems that, at a time when many consumers are making more cautious choices about their spending, shoppers are still willing to splurge on memorable experiences. Groupon has seen strength in its experiential offerings even as its retail business flounders, per its latest earnings report, and Mattel has faced challenges as it notes parents spending more on experiences for their families and less on toys. Similarly, ticket resale platform Vivid Seats saw significant sales growth at a period when retailers were struggling against consumer belt-tightening.

Overall, the significant majority of U.S. consumers engages with the physical store during their purchasing journey, per findings from the PYMNTS Intelligence study “2024 Global Digital Shopping Index: U.S. Edition,” created in collaboration with Visa Acceptance Solutions. The study revealed that a plurality of shoppers (44%) prefer to make retail purchases in stores without interacting with digital technologies, and another 19% prefer to shop in stores with the assistance of digital features. Only 26% of shoppers prefer not to interact with the store at any point in their purchasing journey.