Trends in Shopping Center Attractions

Have you noticed that shopping malls have started to get a little more exciting? If you have, it’s not your imagination. Shopping malls have recently been experiencing a trend toward adding extra attractions that usually don’t have a lot to do with shopping, stores or malls at all.

Incorporating interactive activities and play areas into shopping centers makes them more attractive to modern-day shoppers and families. With e-commerce dominating the retail space, shopping centers must get creative and offer shoppers activities and experiences they’d miss out on when shopping online.

Below, we discuss the top shopping center trends that help attract more visitors.

1. Indoor Playgrounds and Interactive Play

For many decades, malls have included basic indoor play areas to keep children busy while their parents shop and run errands. Today, interactive play equipment is needed to engage the whole family and provide kids with multiple opportunities for physical and social development. Immersive playgrounds also have the advantage of being attractive to children of varying ages, interests and abilities.

Immersive indoor playgrounds attract shoppers looking for all-weather play areas where they’re always protected from the elements. They should include equipment that allows kids to burn off energy in a fun, innovative environment. Indoor play equipment is becoming more creative and can be customized to match the mall’s theme.

Some of the key elements to include in an immersive and interactive play area include:

  • Sensory play objects, like sandboxes and animal-sculpted foam structures
  • Organized story-based activities
  • Obstacle courses
  • Group play activities, such as STOMP from Soft Play®
  • Music and sound effects
  • Themed furniture and seating

2. Bowling Alleys

Bowling alleys are a form of entertainment that’s fun for mall visitors of all ages, from children to adults. They attract both individuals and groups, whether for an outing with family or a birthday party. While classic bowling alleys can provide tons of entertainment and nostalgia, upscale bowling alleys make the activity even better by including arcade games, a bar, a restaurant and live music.

3. Food Courts and Restaurants

You know the cliche saying, “Never shop on an empty stomach”? Shopping malls have taken this saying seriously and are acting on it by including food courts where restaurants and hotels can set up shop. Food courts typically house several restaurants, pizzerias, food stalls, bistros or cafes that serve multiple cuisines. These ensure shoppers can take a break, replenish their energy and bond with their shopping buddies as they grab a bite.

Fine-dining restaurants are also popping up in malls to provide shoppers with a luxurious and sophisticated dining experience they can enjoy, especially during special occasions. For example, after hosting a kid’s party in the mall’s indoor play area, parents can take the kids and parents to the restaurant for a proper meal and a small cake-cutting ceremony.

4. Gyms and Fitness Centers

Gyms and fitness centers are another retailment — retail plus entertainment — element that provides additional convenience to mall visitors. At a fitness center in the mall, members can break a sweat and refresh with a cup of coffee, protein shake or smoothie from the juice bars or bistros. Gym enthusiasts can also shop and bring their kids along, leaving them to play in indoor play areas under the supervision of childcare attendants.

Incorporating a gym playground for kids of all ages can attract more families to the health and fitness center. It will also increase memberships, encourage repeat traffic and strengthen brand loyalty because parents are confident that their kids are playing or exercising safely.

Soft Play provides high-quality, durable and fun indoor health and fitness equipment that makes a trip to the mall more fun for kids.

5. Other Shopping Mall Attractions

There are endless mall activities you can incorporate to boost traffic and gain an advantage over your competitors. Other interesting ideas include:

  • Movie theatres: Movie theaters in malls are becoming more entertaining and inviting by offering exciting 3D experiences, comfortable reclining seats and an extensive array of concessions.
  • Aquariums: Aquariums provide an interactive shopping mall experience that keeps many visitors coming back. These can include ocean-themed play pieces, sculptured animals and custom theme play structures that keep children active and engaged.
  • Skydiving simulators: Did you know you can mimic the experience of skydiving while remaining in a completely safe and contained environment? These simulators use vertical wind tunnels to create a smooth air current that allows kids and adults to fly, making this an exciting sport that appeals to many mall visitors.
  • Laser tag: Indoor laser tag arenas and parks are being built and added to malls and other centers. It’s a fun form of exercise that helps people of all ages improve focus and concentration.
  • Mini golf: Indoor mini-golf arenas are becoming much more exciting and inventive in the process. These arenas take an average game of mini-golf and dials it up a notch by making it glow in the dark, incorporating technology elements and more.
  • Escape rooms: These involve locking a group of people in an elaborately decorated room with a unifying theme, like a turn-of-the-century mansion or an underground cave. They then have a set time limit to try to figure out the cleverly hidden clues in the room that will help them escape. The goal is to make it out of the room before the timer hits zero.

Partner With Soft Play to Create the Ultimate Retail Playground Experience

You’ll notice that the one thing almost all of these shopping center entertainment trends have in common is the element of interactivity. By incorporating these kinds of activities into more traditional shopping mall environments, they become more attractive to modern-day shoppers and families, creating a better customer experience.

The idea is that these spaces will be less dedicated shopping centers and more of an all-inclusive fun center where you can enjoy a fun activity with your family and friends, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy a day of shopping. There are endless mall activity ideas that you can create when you partner with Soft Play.

If you want to add an immersive indoor playground to your shopping center to increase foot traffic and gain a competitive advantage, there’s no better option than Soft Play to help you design your dream indoor playground. We’re a global leader in the indoor playground equipment industry, and since 1984, we’ve been committed to our mission of providing safe play equipment that’s fun for kids and good for business.

To get started on your mall playground design, contact us for a consultation or reach out to a playground consultant near you.


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