Strip Malls: Causes of Failure and Success
DNSI 375 DESIGN THEORY AND RESEARCH Introduction and Literature Review You have a great start on the literature review. I would spend a little bit more time on the introduction and conclusion. The introduction should be more persuasive and can be referenced (see my comments below).
17/20 Strip Malls: Causes of Failure and Success Introduction With the economic downturn, businesses are suffering greatly and closing rapidly; because of this it is important to figure out ways to reduce these closings and help companies prosper. One business type that has seen drastic closings is the strip mall.
While research suggests that location, facade design, greenery, anchor stores, store offerings and other attractions pull in much more foot traffic than malls who are missing these features (source), strip mall abandonment is still a huge problem in the United States. We have to wonder why so much new strip mall construction is occurring without the implementation of these features, or if they are why are they still failing? The purpose of this research study is to determine how facade design, location, and store offerings in strip malls affect customer shopping behaviors.
This study is important to determine how society as a whole can become more sustainable by keeping new construction down and reviving failed strip malls and making them a success. Literature Review Location and Attraction to Strip Malls **(Anchor store information can be added here as an attraction) When it comes to strip malls, location is a key factor in determining where someone chooses to shop, and often distance alone is not enough to determine the success of a strip mall. Though location plays a key role in terms of proximity to its customers, e. . , nearness to main roads, travel time, and population congestion, customer psychology plays a key role in determining whether the trip is “worth it” (Rajagpal, 2009). The distance a customer is willing to travel is determined by several factors of the shopping experience: customer loyalty, ergonomics, expected/post-buying satisfaction, and multichannel retail strategies (Rajagpal 2009). Customer loyalty is built primarily through a store’s overall business model, and is expressed in strip malls by those individual stores upholding those values.
If a customer finds the goods and services provided to be what they expected, they will continue to shop at that store with distance and location being a minimal factor. The ergonomics of a store refers to one’s ability to move around; a store with pleasing ergonomics will enhance the customer’s experience and encourage them to return. Expected/post-buying satisfaction refers to the discrepancies between a person’s perceived experience when shopping before they go into the store and the actual experience as they leave.
Expected satisfaction can be a strong motivator for someone to visit a certain strip: if they’ve heard the way their friends ranted and raved about the experience, they will be more likely to visit, but if their post-buying satisfaction is not what is expected, they may not return. A multichannel retail strategy is the way that a store, or strip mall, chooses to route a customer to make the most of their spending habits. In individual stores this may mean strategically placing “impulse buys” along a customer’s path of travel (Rajagpal 2009).
When applied to the strip, it refers to the way the architect has chosen to route the shopper through the center. Of the four factors listed, this is easily the biggest design factor determining the distance customers are willing to travel because it affects the overall experience that the customer will have. For example, a strip in a square or “L” shape encourages people to walk along the length of the strip, backtracking to stores they saw before, where a simple line offers fewer options and ends abruptly.
Customers are naturally attracted to strips that they have easy access to, but their social environments determine the ease of access. The early development of strip malls came about in the 19th century with the idea of a main street as a shopping destination; along main street shops were placed within walking distance of each other. However, this model has not changed or adapted very well over time and while this design is poor in suburban strip malls, where the linear progression takes you in a single direction rather than encouraging a casual hopper to explore, it is detrimental in urban areas where the original strips existed. For example, the Los Angeles urban strips are close to and have easy access to a potential shopping base, but the social environment discourages shopping. As the city expanded, the area around these strips became home to low-income housing, and the public areas were quickly taken over. The population of the area that was surveyed showed a strong desire to use the space, but noted such hazards as gang activity and a distinct lack of comfort for pedestrians (Loukaiton-Staris, 1997).
Largely the people in Loukaiton-Staris’s study wanted a place that was pedestrian friendly, incorporating things such as seating and greenery, in addition to larger walkways and space for foot traffic. Pedestrian-friendly strips serve as a major attraction to customers, and the design of these heavily influence consumers in their shopping choice. Referring to a strip as “pedestrian-friendly” typically referes to (Loukaiton-Staris, 1997): * Allowances for adequate foot traffic * Allowances for seating Greenery and other visual attractions Strips that incorporate these things, particularly greenery are given a better chance of financial survival with the attraction of more customers and businesses; strips with greater greenery were able to charge higher rent, and shoppers indicated that they would be willing to pay more at these more attractive strip malls (Wolf, 2009). From the customer’s standpoint, greenery poses more interest in a pedestrian area rather than a strip mall dominated by the parking lot due to wayfinding (Wolf, 2009).
A shopper who’s allowed to take their time and wander through a strip is allowed a certain amount of interaction with their surroundings whereas a strip without this aspect can find itself hindered by greenery obscuring the signs. In addition, the amount of greenery affects the amount of time a person is willing to spend in a strip mall, as is indicated on the chart below taken from “Strip Malls, City Trees, and Community Values,” where people were shown pictures and asked to predict their behavior based on the strip malls shown. Location is and store choice is a complex marketing decision; however, the istance a customer is willing to travel to the strip is influences in no small part by its design. This is a factor of ergonomics, multichannel research strategies, pedestrian-friendly travel and greenery. All of these contribute to the attractiveness of the strip mall and so its success. **(Discuss greenery research to follow into – Exterior Facade)** Exterior Facade The exterior facade of a store is another very important aspect of a strip mall’s attractiveness and is important to consider when determining what influences consumer’s behaviors.
The facade of a store is the first thing a customer see’s and generates the first impression of the store (Yuksel, 2009). First impressions are as important to the experience as the store’s reputation to the success or failure of a store. A survey conducted by Retail Consumer Experience reveal some of the views that consumers have on building facades. In the survey it was found that 96% of people consider the businesses appearance somewhat or extremely important (Retail Consumer Experience, 2011).
In addition, it was also found that 52% of people decided not to enter a store because it looked dirty from the outside and 11% because it looked outdated or old from the outside (Retail Consumer Experience, 2011). It is also found that color of the facade can determine the consumer’s experience. When examining if colors have an effect on behaviors it was found that even though the crowd level was the same, customers perceived that the blue exterior building had less crowding than the orange exterior building (Yuksel, 2009).
While the colors of individual facades is often a matter of the store’s personal brand, the color of the building could potentially have an effect on consumer behavior. Although some research has been done on facade design we need to get a better understanding of how much it affects the consumers experience and what about the exterior facade is pleasing or unpleasing. Community Engagement *(It might be nice to go into detail about what went wrong with the public housing incident to help show exactly why lack of community engagement is an issue)
Instead of adding density to existing environments, contemporary cities have a decentralized pattern of growth (Rowe, 1991). Most new growth occurs in the next layer of undeveloped land outside of the existing suburbs. Because of this continuous development, there are more and more paved areas like highways and parking lots and less and less untouched countryside. Suburban sprawl leads to all kinds of unintended environmental consequences, mostly related to the lack of “walkability”. Life in sprawl developments demands up to three times as much driving as in high-density urban areas (Surface, 2000).
This means that there is more air pollution in sprawl areas. Pollutants in the air, including nitrates and sulphates emitted from road traffic, construction, and industry, is linked to health problems such as stroke, cognitive decline, and heart attack (Devi, 2012). Road runoff of automobile oils and battery metals and road salt contribute to water pollution and may affect public health (Surface, 2000). Shopping centers in suburban areas are not as conducive to pedestrians as they are to automobiles, which means that for pedestrians there is little sense of safety when walking to and from different stores.
In addition, when stores go out of business and buildings are abandoned, they become a hotspot for squatters and vandals, bringing crime into the community. A study conducted by John Dimitriou (2001), states that the quality of place in American suburbs inhibits peoples’ ability to have a sense of ownership and connection to the place they live because the physical design of the environment has “repellant and disengaging characteristics” (Dimitriou, 2001, p. 7). The “confused organization and ugliness” of the built environment pushes people away and makes them feel like outsiders in their own towns (Dimitriou, 2001, p. 6). This results in a sense of isolation and lack of community engagement. Suburban settlement is driven by a popular desire to live on the countryside to satisfy a person’s affinity for natural open spaces, fresh air, and lower populations. But people also want to have access to the culture and opportunity provided by a city. The suburban ideal is to have the best of both worlds by unifying town and country (Dimitriou, 2001, p. 10). However, as more and more people move to the suburbs, the country-living characteristics fade and the area becomes more like a city in terms of services and social problems.
This leads to a continuous outward spread of housing developments in search of natural open spaces. The housing developments are followed by shopping centers dispersed throughout the area. These shopping centers are characterized by sprawling parking lots and bland, repetitive architecture. The utilitarian design of strip malls does not encourage people in the community to cultivate a sense of connection or engagement with the shopping center. The dispersed locations of the buildings are disorienting, and foster a dependence on automobiles. Why would anyone want to feel connected to something confusing and ugly?
Good design can enhance a person’s sense of belonging to a community by creating a place that they are proud to be associated with. Dimitriou suggests that if new development is focused on existing suburban centers we can improve the quality of place and reduce dependence on private automobiles. This study focuses on densification of suburban commercial centers. Dimitriou proposes broad planning solutions so that whole communities served by a particular strip center could potentially be unified through their attachment to a place. A great way to foster attachment to a place is by enhancing its sense of history.
This can be accomplished by adding to the existing built environment, rather than demolishing structures, to preserve remnants of old buildings that give clues to the former life of a place (Dimitriou, 2001, p. 27). He also proposes to reorganize strip malls to include more pedestrian friendly elements and public spaces. For example, he suggests forming continuities and connections between specific places to give the area more unity and accessibility and establishing focal points in the form of public spaces or specific buildings to organize navigation (Dimitriou, 2001, p. 27). (Along with attractions: I found a study on how actual attractions, movie theaters, restaurants, roller coasters, etc. Also bring in more foot traffic helping out store sales) LET’S TALK ABOUT PARKING. The most common argument in opposition to a more “downtown – like” pedestrian friendly atmosphere is the relative lack of parking. Parking lots are also what make strip malls so unengaging and ugly. People complain about parking a couple of blocks away from a downtown store but will walk across a huge parking lot (not to mention the size of the mall) to get to their desired destination in the mall.
Conclusion Our research will focus on four specific areas related to strip mall design: facade design, greenery, pedestrian-friendliness, and entertainment attractions such as movie theaters, restaurants, and public gathering spaces. We will look at how each of these factors affects the success of strip malls. Our goal is to come up with design solutions that will help existing strip malls attract and retain customers. These solutions will aim at improving upon the existing built environment instead of demolishing structures and building new ones.
This “suburban renewal” concept is more environmentally friendly and will hopefully engender a sense of history, community and pride in suburban shopping centers. **We also need to add pictures and/or graphs from previous studies REFERENCES Rowe, P. (1991). Making a middle landscape. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. Surface Transportation Policy Project (2000). Mean streets 2000: Pedestrian, health, and federal transportation spending. Washington, DC: Author. Devi, S. (2012). New studies cast dark cloud over air pollution. The Lancet 379. 9817 697. : The Lancet. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <http://www. helancet. com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(12)60292-X/fulltext>. Dimitriou, George John. Suburban Revisions: Redesigning Suburban Strip Malls. 2001. Print. Roajagopal. (2011). Determinants of shopping behavior of urban consumers. Journal of International Consumer Marketing, 23 (2), 83-104. Loukaitou-Sidiris, A. (1997). Inner-City commercial strips: Evolutioin, decay: retrofit? Town Planning Review, 68 (1), 1-29. Wolf, K. (2009). Strip malls, city trees, and community values. Aboriculture and Urban Forestry, 35 (1): 33-40. Irwin, Elana. “Study Shows Urban Sprawl Continues To Gobble Up Land. OSU Research News Index Page. Ohio State University, 17 Dec. 2007. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. <http://researchnews. osu. edu/archive/sprawl. htm>. * * Alternate Introduction * Suburban sprawl has long since taken over much of America’s scenic countryside and continues to spread further and further from center cities. More people have jobs in suburban areas, or are telecommuting, and no longer have the need or desire to live close to the major cities (Irwin, 2007). People are also being drawn further away from cities by natural amenities in rural areas such as lakes, oceans, forests or mountains (Irwin, 2007).
This desire to be closer to nature, however, does not supersede the desire to have easy access to man-made amenities such as restaurants, movie theaters, and shopping centers. The commercial sprawl that follows the residential sprawl often comes in the form of blandly designed strip malls with massive desert-like parking lots. Aside from the store selection, there is nothing to attract customers and encourage them to spend more time in the shopping center. When stores go out of business or move to a more attractive location, the strip malls often remain vacant and become not only eyesores but burdens on the community.
Although strip mall abandonment is a known problem in the United States, more strip malls are being constructed all the time and the cycle continues repeating itself. This study seeks to discover how suburban society can become more sustainable by keeping new construction down and reviving failed strip malls and making them a success. Research suggests that location, facade design, greenery, anchor stores, store offerings and other attractions are all factors that draw in customers. The purpose of this research study is to determine how these factors affect customer shopping behavior. *