The evolution of retail spaces

The evolution of retail spaces: From traditional malls to lifestyle centres

Gone are the days when shopping malls were just a collection of stores under one roof. The traditional mall design, an enclosed building hosting dozens of retailers, a food court, and department store anchors, is undergoing a significant transformation. The retail industry is evolving, and lifestyle centres are at the forefront of this change.

The traditional mall model, perfect for all-weather shopping, still serves a vital purpose accommodating large numbers of patrons and catering to all interests. It is evident though, that people are opting more and more for the quiet suburban outdoor malls. It is in these spaces that patrons are choosing to leisurely spend the day.

The rise of lifestyle centres

Consumers are now calling for outdoor spaces with fresh air, sunshine and vibrant energy. Unlike the enclosed spaces of traditional malls, lifestyle centres offer an open-air environment that brings a fresh approach to retail. These centres are more akin to urban promenades than to suburban strip malls or indoor shopping centres, offering a unique shopping experience that aligns with the preferences of modern consumers.

This design not only offers a refreshing change of scenery but also encourages a more relaxed, leisurely pace of shopping, aligning with the preferences of modern consumers.

Shifting consumer preferences

Today’s consumers are looking for more than just shopping; they seek experiences. Lifestyle centres cater to this demand by offering a mix of retail, dining, entertainment, and recreational activities in an aesthetically pleasing environment. This approach aligns with the growing consumer demand for experiences that go beyond mere transactions.

Outdoor malls across the world

We’re seeing outdoor malls pop up the world over, making this type of shopping experience the norm, more than a passing trend. One example is The Boston Seaport Superette, creating dynamic outdoor public spaces for retail and recreation. Another international example is Cocowalk Miami, designed as a mixed-use outdoor square intertwined with green spaces, restaurants, fitness facilities and more.

With consumers having so many diverse options within one setting, complete with picturesque views, it is expected that mall visits are longer and patrons don’t mind frequenting the mall more than once during the week.

Development trends

In the evolving landscape of urban development, lifestyle centres are increasingly being integrated into the planning stages of modern lifestyle estates. This strategic inclusion reflects a growing recognition of the importance of accessible, multifunctional communal spaces in residential developments.

Lifestyle centres serve as central hubs, offering residents convenient access to a variety of retail outlets, dining options, and entertainment venues, all within the comfort of their living community. The incorporation of these centres from the outset of estate planning underscores a shift towards designing living spaces that not only meet residential needs but also enrich the community’s social and recreational life.

By doing so, developers are creating cohesive, self-contained environments where convenience and quality of life are paramount, catering to the desires of a modern, dynamic population.

These spaces aim to go beyond retail transactions to be sustainable centres of commerce and socialisation. Sustainability can be seen in the green spaces in the lifestyle centre, the harvesting of rainwater, the materials used in construction and the use of natural sunlight and open-air environments to reduce our carbon footprint.

Residential and retail living together

There is an intrinsic relationship between retail and residential – both sustaining the other and creating opportunities for development along the same values.

There is no better example than our retail development, Marine Walk Shopping Centre, located in the Sibaya Coastal Precinct in KwaZulu-Natal. This lifestyle centre was envisioned at the planning stages to support the residential development, Salta Sibaya. With hundreds of people moving into the area, Marine Walk not only supports the growth of the node, but it also creates a dynamic outdoor retail space for patrons to thrive. Marine Walk mirrors the active coastal lifestyle promoted by the residential development, Salta Sibaya.

Making the connection between residential and retail, the new lifestyle centre has attractions that draw people in daily from a playground for the kids, nail salon, everyday groceries, casual dining, as well as health foods and drinks.

In Marine Walk, all restaurants and shops spill out into a green, central, open-air courtyard where kids can play on the jungle gym and customers can stroll along the pathways. The fresh air, sunshine and casual atmosphere creates a vibrant energy that people return to again and again.

Merging with the digital age

In today’s age, it is essential to stay connected. This not only applies to reconnecting with nature, but to be connected with each other and the larger community. It is that feeling of being independent and yet connected that speaks volumes amongst today’s consumers.

It is all about attracting a new generation of consumers who blend leisure, work, and shopping in one trip. This approach not only caters to the modern consumer’s lifestyle, but it also bridges the gap between online convenience and the irreplaceable charm of physical retail spaces. Providing outlets for laptops or cellphone charging is a huge draw for consumers, along with Wi-Fi within the new lifestyle centre.

Undoubtedly, in time, there will be more innovations combining the digital age, lifestyle centres and the concept of the outdoor mall. This adaptation to the digital age is crucial in ensuring that lifestyle centres remain not just relevant, but essential parts of the modern urban landscape, offering experiences that cannot be replicated online.

Looking ahead, we can expect the trend of the new outdoor lifestyle centre to continue and even accelerate. The integration of lifestyle centres into modern living estates, as exemplified by Marine Walk Shopping Centre in Salta Sibaya, showcases how retail and residential spaces can symbiotically thrive. These centres are commercially viable and enhance the quality of life for residents, offering a blend of convenience, leisure, and a sense of community.

As we move forward, lifestyle centres such as Marine Walk, will likely become focal points of community life, reshaping how we think about shopping, living, and interacting with our urban environments. What we are seeing is a sustainable shift towards creating more liveable, enjoyable, and connected communities.

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