Make malls the place for people to gather - expert

Carin Smith

Durban – A shopping centre is really nothing more than a market place and that is how developers and retailers should approach retail spaces, according to Patrick Bruce, director of The Oval Partnership.

“One of the ways to lure people to shopping centres is the experiential use of public space,” said Bruce, who is an international expert in design and management of retail spaces.

Speaking at the 19th congress of the South African Council of Shopping Centres taking place in Durban this week, Bruce said: “Create spaces where people want to go just to hang out. Research shows the longer people dwell in shopping centre, the bigger the chance of them doing one or more transactions. Therefore, make it the place to gather.”

In his view the successful use of public spaces in malls is all about animation and activation. At the same time people want to feel comfortable and secure. This can be addressed by making sure there are always many people around and avoiding creating hidden corners or alleys.

Public space can be very barren and one way to address this, he suggested, is the use of art to animate and area.

“You want consumers to explore the space and art as a beacon and attraction can help to make them not feel lost,” said Bruce.

“Use animation and entertainment to keep areas active. Use these areas to drive people to dwell in the mall and spend.”

* Carin Smith is a guest of the SACSC at its congress.