The country .India is the world’s fifth-largest global

The history of shopping malls go as
far as 1922 when the first shopping mall was opened near Kansas City. Ever
since then, it has passed the test of time and has become a part of the economy
and modern day retail. In the early days the malls were more like shopping
centres with similar type of accessories and products being available all over.
It had a series of small specialty shops leading via a pathway towards a
departmental store. This store acted as the anchor to attract the crowd. The
idea was to attract people to the anchor store who would indulge in shopping in
the specialised store on their way. These centres were ideally situated near
the highway with free parking facilities. “The enclosed, climate-controlled
indoor mall was introduced by Victor Gruen, an Austrian refugee from the Nazis,
at the Southdale Shopping Center in Edina, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis,
in 1956”. The enclosed, indoor model with controlled temperature became famous
and after a time open air shopping centres were not preferred at all.

The Indian
retail industry over the past decades has emerged as one of the most dynamic
and fast-paced industries due to the significant growth opportunities available
in India. It currently accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) and more than 8 per cent of the total employment
generated in the country .India is the world’s fifth-largest global destination
in the retail space. Indian Retail Industry has immense potential as India has
the second largest population with affluent and expanding middle class, rapid
urbanisation.

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India’s retail market is expected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth
Rate (CAGR) of 10 per cent to US$ 1.6 trillion by 2026 from the current US$ 641
billion in 2016. While the overall retail market is expected to grow at 12 per
cent per annum, modern trade would expand twice as fast at 20 per cent per
annum and traditional trade at 10 per cent. Indian retail market is divided
into “Organised Retail Market” which is valued at $60 billion which is only 9
per cent of the total sector and “Unorganised Retail Market constitutes the
rest 91 per cent of the sector.

 

Malls comprise the official retail sector. As per IBEF, Shopping malls are defined as “one or more buildings
forming a complex of shops representing merchandisers, with interconnected
walkways enabling visitors to walk from unit to unit.” Unofficially, they
are the heart and soul of communities, the foundation of retail economies, and
a social sanctuary for teenagers everywhere. In recent decades, the concept of
the shopping mall, which has its origins in the U.S. and became a full-blown
modern retail trend across the world in the post-WWII Years, has proliferated
across the globe. The five largest malls in the world now reside in Asia.
China’s New South China Mall in Dongguan stands at the top of the heap with 2.9
million square meters of space.

Despite its ubiquity, the malls across the
world are at a critical inflection point. 
 A storm of global trends are
coming together at the same time to cause malls to change the role they play in
people’s lives. No longer are they primarily about shopping. Now, when
consumers visit malls, they are looking for experiences that go well beyond
traditional shopping.

Malls need to move in a different direction,
staying away from commoditized shopping experiences and toward a broadened value
proposition for consumers. Innovative malls are incorporating value-added
elements that attempt to recast the mall as the new downtown, including
concerts, arts centres, spas, fitness clubs, and farmer’s markets. These
services provide a level of leisure and entertainment that can never be
satisfied online. The gen next mall features a ski slope, go karts, balloon
rides, bowling and billiards.

On the tenant mix front,
innovative malls are strategically rethinking the types of stores that
consumers will respond to. Anchor tenants that drive traffic are still key, but
we also see a new emphasis on a curated mix of smaller stores that add a sense
of novelty to the mall offering. Additionally, some malls are making optimised use
of temporary, flexible spaces that can accommodate different stores over time.
Pop up stores, showroom spaces and kiosks provide customers with a sense of the
unexpected and give them a great experience. Finally, malls are overcoming the
commoditization problem by focusing on specific consumer segments and/or
creating specific zones within the mall that allow consumers to find an area
that caters to them.

 

It is critical that these malls should be
more than stores. The mix of tenant/public space is currently moving from the
current 70/30 to 60/40, or even 50/50. When this transition in space
utilisation and tenant mix happens, these expanded public spaces will need to
be planned and programed over the year much like an exhibition. Mixed used
developments offer consumers an attractive, integrated community in which to
live, work and shop. They also serve to generate additional traffic for the
malls while maximizing returns on invested capital. Other commercial real
estate opportunities that can add alternative revenue streams are hotels,
office buildings and airports.

It was found that people preferred
going to malls either in large groups or single. This suggested that the reason
for this behaviour was because the mall supported social interaction. Studies
have shown that the social nature and atmosphere of the mall contributes to its
profitability and popularity. Consumers find a motive, be it social or
psychological, to go to malls and purchase beyond the necessary purchases.
These are mainly that type of consumers who view shopping as a social and
recreational outing rather than a necessity. “The retail trade centre has
historically been the setting for cultural and social events. In contemporary
society, the shopping mall is the retail trade centre. It is an arena which
fosters community interaction and exchange of information, a function
previously served by the farmers market, the church, or the pub”. The social
interaction in the shopping mall was more akin to that of the local farmers
market than the super market. This happened because the interactions that
happened within the people visiting the malls and amongst the buyers and shop
owners in the mall was of the similar intensity of that of the local farmers
market. In a typical farmers market, the sellers and buyers engage in conversations
thereby increasing the satisfaction level. However a typical supermarket does
not encourages customer engagement at that level, and without any additional
incentive to be there other than the purpose of buying things, people feel more
attracted towards a shopping mall compared to that. The image of a store
present inside a mall and the one situated in the downtown shopping district
was different as well. People tend to prefer the stores in the mall compared to
the store outside as it felt more sociable. This factor reinforces consumers
buying behaviour.

By 1970’s it was reported that
Americans were spending more time in the shopping mall that any other place,
other than work or home. The “mom and pop” stores, individual specialized shops
lost its charm. People of all age group started thronging the shopping malls.
They regarded it as a clean, convenient, safe and cheerful place compared to
other downtown stores. It had become a place where senior citizens could roam
around securely in comfort, where parents take their kids to see Santa Claus,
teenagers socialize and singles court. People preferred going there when there
was nothing better to do. Thus it lead to a study which felt that “there is
something social going on in the mall”. Part of the success of the retail mall
was attributed to the socially stimulating environment that it offered. People
felt more satisfied after visiting a shopping mall because of the level of
social interaction they had. This was found through a study where the composition
of people visiting a downtown shopping area and the local shopping mall was
compared, along with it social behaviour in the shopping mall and the stores in
mall were compared to that of stores that were situated in shopping centres or
downtown shopping district. This study gave a detailed insight into the
Psychology of the people visiting the shopping mall and the reason they prefer
to go there compared to other shopping areas.

The objective of this study is to understand
the various dimensions of customer relationship in shopping malls and how it
impacts customer satisfaction.