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Entertainment-Based Retailing, including Power Towns, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

Since the earliest days of the marketplace, merchants have realized that entertainment draws crowds of people who linger and shop.  Even during the Dark Ages, jugglers, storytellers and other entertainers were an integral part of public markets, helping to draw throngs of people who might purchase goods.
Entertainment as a drawing card for retail customers has been highly effective in the past.  The question is: will it remain effective after the Coronavirus pandemic?  In fact, the explosive growth of retailing over the internet means that brick and mortar retailers must offer more than the mere availability of merchandise in order to lure shoppers out of their homes, away from their computer screens and web browsers and into the retail store.  New shopping centers, especially those in urban areas, are devoting up to 40% of gross leasable area (GLA) to entertainment, restaurants and movie theaters.  Developers say that shoppers stay on average more than six hours per visit when significant entertainment venues are available.
Yet consumers still want the convenience found in neighborhood centers.  Consequently, many new shopping center developments are including the most desirable elements of both power centers and lifestyle centers, including dominant anchor tenants in large formats, dotted with smaller specialty retailers and a plethora of entertainment and dining facilities, all set in a pleasant outdoor environment with sidewalks, trees, lawns and ponds.  In many ways, they are the shopping center equivalent of the super-merchandiser stores.
Developers are planning centers that not only provide entertainment but are also designed to be communities, with space for offices and residential areas.  These projects may even include areas for post offices, day-care centers and community centers for performance theatres and galleries.
Destiny USA in Syracuse, New York offers go-kart racing, a WonderWorks interactive amusement park with laser tag, a 5 Wits immersive special effects and physical interaction attraction and a glow in the dark Glow Golf miniature golf course.
Canadian developer Triple Five Group (which owns the massive Mall of America in Minnesota) made headlines when it announced plans to build the largest enclosed mall in the U.S., to be located in Miami, Florida.  The $4.5 billion to $5 billion American Dream Miami will feature a ski slope, a water park, a sea lion show, miniature golf, a bowling alley, a submarine ride, restaurants, a performing arts theater, a cinema, Ferris wheel, an ice rink and a roller coaster in addition to hotels and condominiums.  Triple Five is hoping to capitalize on Miami’s tourists, as well as downtown population growth.  
Another ambitious project from the Triple Five Group finally opened in New Jersey in October 2019.  Originally called Xanadu, the rechristened $5.7 billion American Dream Meadowlands sits on 90 acres an occupies approximately 3 million square feet.  The complex holds North America’s largest indoor amusement park and the largest indoor water park, in addition to a ski slope, roller coaster and twin-body water slides.  The mall has 200 food and retail tenants, including the high-end brands Hermes, Tiffany & Co., Dolce & Gabbana and a Saks Fifth Avenue which are housed in the complex’s luxury wing.
Malls that have embraced entertainment tend to be the most successful.  The Forum Shops at Caesars in Las Vegas, Nevada, which employs strolling musicians as well as performance artists, and lights the ceilings in common areas to look like brilliant day or night skies, has posted enviable levels of sales per square foot.  The Grove in Los Angeles, California transports shoppers with a refurbished 1950s Boston streetcar and hosts Summer Concert Series. 

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