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What does the future hold for shopping malls?

By Greg Bell

With more and more Australians choosing to do their shopping online instead of in a retail store, the fate of shopping malls seems less than certain. When Sir Frank Lowy sold his Westfield shopping centre empire for $32 billion in late 2017, it raised the question of whether it was time for others in this space to sell up and get out before the worst was to come.

Yet with so much commercial property for sale on the Gold Coast, having too much pessimism around malls and retail stores is a big mistake. There are still many opportunities for great investments, because malls and retail stores can still offer much that online only stores can't – things that are becoming more important for their continued survival.

Playing to their strengths

A crucial advantage physical retailers have over online stores is that you can see and touch the product you'll be buying in person. Especially for things like clothing where fit is a large part of the purchase decision, feeling a product and assessing its quality is much easier to do when you're really there.

They can also offer retail experiences that online stores can't match – instead of customers just walking into a store, they can be guided through the purchase process by a salesperson who can help them find exactly what they need. Apple is a good example of this – their retail stores are very customer-focused, with a lot of staff dedicated to helping people find what they need.

Combine the best of both worlds

Retailers in malls also don't have to limit themselves to only selling their products in store. Unlike exclusively online retailers, they can have their cake and eat it too by offering online shopping with a click and collect system – people get the immediate gratification of buying online, along with the benefits of being able to check the merchandise in person before they finalise the purchase. Retail stores that take this hybrid approach have a huge leg up over online retailers, because they can serve both kinds of customers – those that prefer to browse and purchase in person exclusively, as well as those who are more comfortable shopping online. 

Buying commercial property on the Gold Coast can still be a great investment. To learn more about what we have on offer, contact a member of the Ray White Surfers Paradise team today.

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