Shopping malls in Korea undergo revamp

Korea has a new cultural trend known as ‘malling’ – a new type of consumption that combines different leisure activities…

April 04, 2018

Korea has a new cultural trend known as ‘malling’ – a new type of consumption that combines different leisure activities such as dining, shopping, watching movies, and even swimming, under one location –hence creating a destination mall

While the purpose of visiting shopping malls previously was solely for shopping, mall operators are increasingly interested to extend their customer’s patronage at their premise. Some have started to evolve their concept of traditional department store shopping to something that is more leisure space oriented. This includes segmenting their leisurescapes to attract an entire family rather than by different age groups.

Destination malls have a variety of amenities for the public to engage with including concert venues, movie theatres, sports leisure facilities, even a hotel and beauty salons. People in their 20s tend to visit shopping malls in the evening for leisure and seem to enjoy the thematic experiences that mall operators include in their environment. People in their 30s are often busy with work and prefer to visit kids cafés with their children during the afternoon hours. The usage of hotel and beauty salon facilities is rapidly increasing for the middle-aged population.

Interestingly, shopping malls have now become a short-trip destination for families where leisure activities such as shopping and dining can be done under one roof. One of the reasons behind the success of ‘malling’ is because people don’t have the time for long distance trips outside the city. With limited amount of time on the weekends, people tend to choose the ‘all-in-one’ shopping mall option that is typically closer to city area. In addition, pollution encourages people to stay indoors hence increasing the demand for visiting destination malls.

As online shopping continues to be a threat to retailers with consumers preferring to make purchases through these channels, destination malls could be a viable solution in using the ‘malling’ trend to draw in visitors. Starfield Coex, one of the major destination malls in Seoul, is estimated to have attracted 17 million visitors over a 10 month period and has reported an increase of 30% – 50% in sales after opening its library last May. Lotte World Mall, known for meeting ‘malling’ requirements and boasting both domestic and international clientele had surpassed 100 million visitors in October last year.

However, a slew of new regulation that is likely to be passed soon will require mall operators to shut down their premises at least twice a month in order to protect small businesses. This might hamper the growth of shopping malls, in particular destination malls which have been drawing attention as the next-generation growth engine for retail. Despite these regulations, the uptrend for shopping malls will likely to continue thanks to the increasing popularity of ‘malling’.