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Don't forget your skis at one-stop mall of future

By Margaret Canning

A commercial property outlook courtesy of agents CBRE yesterday brought us an intriguing glimpse into the future of retail.

Our present shopping centres will look positively prehistoric in a couple of years' time, when property investors will be working harder than ever to entice us to shop outside the home.

Enda Luddy, the agency's managing director, predicts significant change in the nature of shopping malls, as things change at an "unprecedented" pace.

The CastleCourts and Victoria Squares of the future will no longer be simply shopping centres but must transform themselves into so-called 'destination consumption hubs'.

Think of the services you can avail of at a shopping centre today - a hairdresser's, a restaurant, a cinema - all designed to keep you under its roof, with your purse strings nice and loose. Now multiply those by 10. In fact, the children's arcade rides which have long been a feature of shopping centres thoroughfares will look like something from the The Flintstones if Enda's vision comes true.

There will be the means to profile a shopper from the moment they enter the centre, directing them towards purchases likely to be of interest.

If you're bored, there could be cycle tracks on the roof, a climbing wall on the outside wall and even a dry ski slope.

And some high street shops may have to reduce in size as malls get bigger.

Enda predicts that a shop which currently takes up 100,000 sq ft, of which up to 70% is used for the storage of dry goods, may get much smaller as the cost of keeping a store open no longer adds up.

Enda talks about getting a customer's "engagement, loyalty, and ultimately their purchases". A shopping centre operator has to know that it'll take more than providing wifi to impress the tech-savvy shopper.

It's all very exciting for one who was once bowled over by a Topshop and Cafe Kylemore when Newry's Buttercrane Centre opened around 25 years ago.

Belfast Telegraph


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