LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — If you have been to a local mall lately, you may have noticed things are a lot different.
While there were changes being made to many malls before the pandemic, this past year forced even more changes for shopping centers.
Some properties are getting creative with activity-oriented shops, like bowling alleys.
While the pandemic may have caused some closures, it also sparked opportunity.
“It was quiet, I noticed some stores that were not open at all,” said shopper Tina Stevens.
Looking at the indoor malls around the valley, it is easy to spot vacant stores.
Michael Minden owns Michael E. Minden Jewelers in Fashion Show Mall on the Las Vegas Strip.
“It was a very, very scary for everybody,” said Minden. “I would say now the mall in itself is probably about 80% of where it was.”
Minden says some stores did not survive the pandemic.
“Most of the vacancies we have experienced apparently have been national stores,” Minden said.
Minden’s store closed for three months. It was not until June 1 when he could reopen, but it wasn’t the same.
“A lot of the wonderful clients that would normally be visiting Fashion Show were still scared and wanting to stay home, Minden said.
He says now, almost a year later, his regular customers are starting to return and enjoy in-person shopping again.
Shopping expert Trae Bodge says vacancies provide opportunity.
“Business are experimenting because they have lower prices per square foot and a usual business can pop into a mall and see what happens,” Bodge said.
As restrictions loosen up, Bodge expects shopping centers will do more to attract people back with activity driven entertainment.
“The mall owners are trying to find a way to bring more foot traffic into the malls by providing a broad selection of things to do,” Bodge said.
Outdoor malls on the other hand have been popular spots, according to commercial real estate agent and broker, Dana Berggren.
“We live in a fantastic climate, who wouldn’t want to be outside,” Berggren said.
Berggren has also noticed changes at some indoor malls.
“Boulevard Mall now their big box stores are call centers we are seeing distribution centers in big box retail spaces,” Berggren said.
She says clients tend to want to be in the outdoor malls, but the indoor locations provide opportunity.
“It is just reinventing what is there and having the funding there to do that,” Berggren said.
The valley’s biggest mall — Fashion Show — is unique due to its Strip location.
The silver lining is now it breeds opportunity,” said Fashion Show Senior General Manager Brent Garnder. “The shopping center industry like all industries we are constantly evolving.”
From activities to unique products, he says he expects retailers to adapt and become innovative to attract customers.
“I think you are going to see retailers, here in Vegas or anywhere frankly, those that do the best and do well into the future they pay close attention to consumers and clients requests and the feedback they provide,” Garnder said.
As restrictions ease, experts expect more people to head back out to the local malls as they can try clothes on and get the in-person shopping experience like normal, once again.