by ShopperTrak on 27-03-14

It’s no secret that spare time is precious. With the demands of 21st century living – office deadlines, family pressures and endless chores – when you eventually find time to enjoy yourself, you want to make the most of it. That’s why more people than ever are seeking convenient ways to socialise.

One of the big beneficiaries from our time-poor lifestyle are shopping centres. Gone are the days when a trip to the arcade meant buying a new outfit before trekking across town for dinner and drinks. By offering variety and convenience, shopping centres are now the beating heart of the community, offering customers their complete retail and leisure needs under one roof.

Nowadays, for example, a Saturday morning spent at your local shopping centre could begin with coffee and a croissant while you make a list of the things to purchase. After visiting a few of your favourite stores, you might stop for a light lunch. At the end of the day you may choose to avoid traffic by staying for a refreshing drink, at which point you spy a poster at the on-site multiplex cinema and decide to watch a movie before heading home.

It’s no longer just a case of offering an array entertainment and eating options, either: shopping centres are drawing customers in through special events such as seasonal ice skating and regional craft markets. One such venue is Lakeside shopping centre in Essex, UK, where owners Intu have pledged £100 million towards creating a centre for eating, drinking and pop-up entertainment.

Indeed, according to a recent Retail Week story, Intu has invested £8m in its new transactional and mobile site and since the launch of free wi-fi in more than half its shopping centre estate, a million people have connected to the service. With the remainder of its shopping centres expected to be wi-fi enabled in 2014, this is clearly a high priority for engaging with customers.

For insight into consumer behaviour in your shopping centre, click here.

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