I’ve just come from a client meeting in a nearby Westfield centre and I've left pondering “who is watching who in the shopping centres?”
A lot of people are not aware of the inner workings of the large shopping centres. To many people it’s the local retail hub, a place to meet with friends for recreational shopping, enjoy a meal, catch some entertainment or fulfill daily tasks of grocery shopping or perhaps medical appointments.
Personally I love the behind the scenes inner workings of the large centres. After hours they become a mini city of workers who are creating the fantasy for the next day of trading. That’s my “retail designer” version!
In a large scale centre part of the “behind the scenes” is the interaction that centre management have with their tenants- the retailers. There’s the daily give and take that happens with retailers pushing the envelope and moving display racks further out into the malls and being told by management to pull them in. Sometimes there are issues with retailers introducing new product lines which may breach their original lease agreement. Other established retailers don’t like it if their neighbour suddenly starts selling very similar products to theirs.
On a daily basis various people in Centre Management walk the floor and observe, however after today’s visit I was quite surprised by the slipping standards I saw.
I passed a café with the most disgusting dusty pendant light hanging over tables where people sit and eat. At another café I saw a Happy Easter sign up now 3 months after Easter. These are house keeping issues that should be getting noticed and actioned. I also saw kiosk stores with piles of unnecessary and non retail items in big stacks. It made the stores look messy and gave them a worn feeling. Usually Centre Management would be onto individual tenants quick as a flash, but that is obviously not happening.
If I’m noticing this as I walk past at a brisk pace, the shoppers definitely are as they linger over their coffee and meals. Plenty of phrases come to mind- where does the buck stop? Whilst I think it’s a harsh analogy- does rot start at the top? In any type of collective group in society the actions of one affect the whole. In these retail times and the high rents in these big centres, everyone needs to play their A game all the time.