There was a time when you could meet up with friends or family go to “the mall.” Shopping was more than just shopping- it was a glorious day of entertainment. You could stroll through store after store, bask in the shine and sparkle, soaking up the glitz and glamour of it all. You could have a proper lunch and then get a coffee from your favorite barista. While some big cities still have bustling malls and outlets, in too many places around the country, they’re all but dwindling relics of a past that was simpler and, without a doubt, more joyful. Yet, even with the long shadow cast by online shopping over the future of brick-and-mortar retail, a recent survey by First Insight, an industry leader in customer predictive analytics, reported that 71 percent of shoppers surveyed spent more while shopping in-store than online.
It’s a curious finding that validates the concept of “retail therapy.” The real-world retail environment offers a distinct sensory experience that cannot be replaced by the click of a mouse. Consumers can feel a product, enjoy the social experience, and engage in a more immersive customer journey, stimulating all those happy and positive brain chemicals, which makes purchasing decisions more gratifying.
Nevertheless, we have seen a decline in our shopping malls here on the Treasure Coast. Both of our indoor malls have seen erosion, but we still have our Vero Beach Outlets. What a time to be an outdoor ‘mall-esque’ shopping destination. At a moment when so many are uncomfortable in indoor spaces, outlet malls offer an appealing alternative, especially here in sunny Florida.
Located just a few miles from downtown Vero Beach, the shopping center encompasses nearly 340,000 square feet of retail space with a robust array of leading fashion and accessory retailers and is continuing to grow. There are more than 40 retailers offering everything from shoes and swimsuits to handbags and home décor.
The management team at Vero Beach Outlets continually looks for ways to enhance the shopping experience. In the past, they have brought in cool food trucks, hosted runway fashion shows, and even a mini wine and film festival. Most recently, they built a sleek new Guest Services Center. Utilizing a centrally located vacant store, they built out space where shoppers can relax in style. The center features plenty of seating, a big-screen television, a kid-sized area, and, most delightfully, a free Nespresso bar. The beautifully appointed center offers shoppers a place to sit down, relax, and enjoy a flavored coffee or cappuccino, and even free cookies.
There has never been a better time to embrace the concept of “when the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” If we are to learn anything from the events of the past year, it’s how easily so many things we take for granted in life can speedily slip through our fingers. If those feel-good moments are getting fewer and further between, why not try a little retail therapy on for size?