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I’m a Gen Z, and over the years I have found that my preference for shopping at shopping centres and malls is greatly diminishing. I would say it’s due to ridiculous car parking costs, nowhere interesting to eat (Maccy D’s is not going to cut it), crowds, closed down stores, trampled clothes all over shop floors, graffiti, metres of shopfront shutters, and long queues. Why bother to go to a mall when you can shop from the comfort of your sofa… and not have to interact with a single soul?

Milton Keynes Topshop closed for good.

When I talk about shopping centres, I am collectively talking about shopping centres, malls, and areas that people can shop. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have visited many shopping centres over my lifetime. Each have their own interesting qualities and dare I say, vibes. I recently had the pleasure of going to a handful of shopping centres in Europe. Totally different vibes compared to shopping centres in the UK. There were things to do, there were a variety of stores for all ages, the customer service was generous, clothes weren’t scattered all over the floor, the food courts had actual vendors, and there were functioning toilets! What can shopping centres do in the UK to win my affections once more?

Be pleasant and welcoming

In general, what draws people to shopping centres is a variety of stores and a pleasant environment (Calvo-Porral & Lévy-Mangín, 2018). It has been found that in the UK, those who find their shopping experience pleasurable and enjoyable at their local shopping centre are more likely to return/have the desire to return some time in the future (Hart et al., 2007). No surprise there. Who would want to revisit somewhere with limited accessibility, restrooms that are unclean, poor customer service, and unappealing stores? I would like to see signs, cool attractions, abundant lighting, greenery, places to sit, bins, wide corridors, nice smells, and nice views.

Encourage me

It has been found that the longer it takes for a shopper to get to a shopping destination, the longer they are to spend at the shopping destination (Baghaee et al., 2021). It makes sense. Therefore, shopping centres that I don’t live near should encourage me to travel to them. Put ads out, look nice, tell me what makes you different to all the others, and give me benefits. I’ll find a way to visit you.

Shutters galore?

Think about younger shoppers

Bawa et al. (2019) explored young shoppers’ experiences of mall shopping. Young shoppers are likely to spend, at most, 3 hours shopping at a time. That’s quite a lot of hours. Young shoppers greatly appreciate the convenience of having everything under one roof. Having everything under one roof means that everything is accessible in one place, and that poor weather can’t interrupt the shopping experience. “Oh, you want to go to that Thai restaurant? It’s not in the centre, it’s a twenty minute walk and you’ll have to cross 3 and a half roads.” Choice is also super important for young shoppers in terms of being able to access a variety of brands. Young shoppers also greatly appreciate the hedonic aspects (joyful experiences) associated with malls such as browsing, play areas, spending time with friends and family, and viewing shows and exhibitions. I always liked the smell of popcorn lingering around. A shopping centre should be a fun and exciting place to hang out and do different things.

The closer, the better

It has been found that consumers with limited access to shops purchase more online (Maat & Konings, 2018). By shopping online, no time or money is spent on travelling to shopping destinations. Therefore, it would be great if shopping centres could open locally to stop me from opening up my MacBook and clicking away.

Don't bother me (too much)

When I go shopping, I don’t generally like to be approached by others nor approach others myself. I like to avoid kiosks at all costs. If I see someone that looks like they’re going to approach me, I will pretend I can’t see them and speed walk away. Runyan et al. (2012) found that the presence of kiosks in malls can negatively affect a shopper’s shopping experience. Obviously if I run away from you, you can’t sell a product to me. If kiosks are to be present, they should be positioned near stores that offer similar goods (Runyan et al., 2012). In contrast, according to Medrano et al. (2016), many shoppers find courteous attention an important aspect of shopping. Therefore the researchers recommend that stores should train their staff to acknowledge shoppers and be able to offer them a personalised and professional service without getting too intimate (Medrano et al., 2016).


Baghaee, S., Nosratabadi, S., Aram, F., & Mosavi, A. (2021). Driving factors behind the social role of retail centers on recreational activities. Cogent Business & Management, 8(1),

Bawa, R., Sinha, A. & Kant, R. (2019). Emerging Mall Culture and Shopping Behavior of Young Consumers. Advances in Anthropology, 9, 125-150. 10.4236/aa.2019.93010

Calvo-Porral, C. & Lévy-Mangín, J.-P. (2018). Pull factors of the shopping malls: an empirical study. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 46(2), 110-124.

Hart, C., Farrell, A. M., Stachow, G., Reed, G., & Cadogan, J. W. (2007). Enjoyment of the Shopping Experience: Impact on Customers' Repatronage Intentions and Gender Influence. The Service Industries Journal, 27(5), 583-604.

Maat, K. & Konings, R. (2018). Accessibility or Innovation? Store Shopping Trips versus Online Shopping. Transportation Research Record, 2672(50), 1-10.

Medrano, N., Olarte-Pascual, C., Pelegrín-Borondo, J., & Sierra-Murillo, Y. (2016). Consumer Behavior in Shopping Streets: The Importance of the Salesperson's Professional Personal Attention. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 125.

Runyan, R., Kim, J. & Baker, J. (2012). The mall as bazaar: How kiosks influence consumer shopping behaviour. Journal of Marketing Management, 28, 1, 85-102.


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