At the start of 2020, shopping centres had just emerged from a hugely challenging decade. Online purchasing had, of course, migrated sales from stores. Many consumers had also shifted much of their discretionary spend from things to experiences, and while food and beverage chains, leisure venues and other services had expanded in both numbers and ambition, retail space had shrunk.
And then along came a pandemic. COVID-19 is being called a retail game-changer and the prognosis seems simple enough. Retail decline plus a global pandemic equals an industry in deep trouble. But for centres away from town and city centres, COVID-19 may be less transformational and more a massive accelerator of an inevitable direction of travel. It feels like 2030 might have turned up 10 years early.
For owners and landlords of out-of-town shopping destinations, the first “new normal” phase inevitably focused on how malls can operate safely and provide assurance to shoppers. As European r