Malls Must Adapt to New Generation of Consumers

July 1, 1997

LAS VEGAS--Shopping mall owners and developers must meet the demands of the time-crunched, value-oriented consumer or be prepared for the industry's growth to stumble.

That's what Wall Street analysts told participants at the annual convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers here.

Shopping malls have not kept pace with changing demographics since the 1960s, and that's why their sales are suffering today, said Richard Baum, vice president of Goldman Sachs' Investment Research De-partment. He said that malls cater to an aging population when they should be attracting the next wave of consumers, those in the 15 to 25 age group.

Peter Schaeffer, a retail analyst with Dillon Read & Co. in New York, said most shopping malls across the country look similar, and consumers "are bored." He urged developers to come up with new designs and store mixes.

Moreover, he said that baby boomers tend to be "destination oriented" when they shop and that they want to get in and out of a mall quickly. They have specific buys in mind, rather than browsing through malls.

"Malls are no longer the convenient place to shop," added Stephen H. Latz, vice president with A.G. Edwards & Sons Inc. in St. Louis. He warned investors to be "extremely cautious" regarding older malls unless they "offer something special or are in a strategic location."

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