As online retail continues to gain traction over traditional brick-and-mortar shopping, landlords across the country are capitalizing on the growing consumer demand for unique experiences in an effort to fill vacant storefronts—offerings that, conveniently, can’t be found on the world wide web.
“The past couple of years were all about pop-ups and fitness spaces,” says Alexander Koustas, head of The Agency Commercial Advisory. “But this year, other innovative experiential offerings are a major part of the mix. We’re seeing everything from high-end food courts and restaurants to rock climbing gyms, parachute simulators and go-kart tracks enter spaces where traditional department stores and boutiques reined in decades’ past.”
In L.A., perhaps nowhere is the rise of experiential shopping more evident than in Westfield’s revamped Century City location, where indoor-outdoor lounges with suspended seating pods and high-end, experience-oriented food offerings like the sprawling Italian market Eataly L.A. draw a new, internet-age consumer looking for something they can’t find at home in their PJs.
According to an article on CoStar, analysts project more than 50% of mall leasing in the next 12 months will involve non-traditional retail tenants, as they look for innovative ways to fill space in an e-commerce age.
The trend is also drawing new arrivals on the commercial real estate scene. Late last year, Nike introduced its new Jumpman LA space in Downtown L.A., a nearly 25,000-square-foot wonderland that includes a product lounge, sports-science-equipped Flight Lab and full regulation-size rooftop basketball court.
“Experiential real estate is a way for physical retailers to survive in our current market,” Alex explains. “By filling in the gaps where the internet falls short, brick-and-mortar retailers are redefining themselves, and in turn, our industry.”