Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Check Out Line: Hanging at the mall not so fun

December 9, 2008

shopCheck out how consumers feel about shopping at malls.

Auto dealers and reporters are popular targets for hate mail. But mall operators may have reason to fear joining them if a new study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and the Verde Group, a market research consultancy, is to be believed.

Almost eight of every 10 people surveyed faced a problem at the mall, citing such issues as a limited choice of places to eat, lack of variety of stores, parking difficulties and a shortage of restrooms.

But keeping shoppers happy will be critical this holiday shopping season.

U.S. consumers, who spend an average of $150 per mall visit according to the study, have curtailed shopping due to the recession, the weak U.S. housing market and high food costs, raising concerns about holiday sales. More and more people are scared about their jobs — another factor in the spending slowdown.

“These findings should be a call to action for mall developers who are failing to quench this thirst for excitement,” said Wharton Professor Stephen Hoch in a statement. “Malls can’t be mundane in this economic climate.”

Mall operators, already struggling to lure shoppers, are facing a dwindling pool of retail tenants, as many bankrupt stores like Steve & Barry’s have begun to shut their doors.

Also in the basket:

Kroger 4th-qtr outlook disappoints; shares fall

Jarden sees 2009 revenue in excess of $5 billion

Restraint Feel Right, Doesn’t It (New York Times)

Happy Holidays! But Don’t Expect Too Much From Santa Claus (Wall Street Journal)

(Photo/Reuters)

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