If not a revitalization, it’s certainly a revision. We are seeing the changes in the restaurant industry; more fast casual places and mixed-use market-style setups that cater to a new breed of eaters. In the face of an uphill battle against online shopping, retailers are also looking to change their faces, and in doing so, their spaces.
Stores have been feeling the drop in foot traffic for some time. Mark Heschmeyer of the CoStar Group notes that “leading brands that reported declines in year-over-year same store sales were: American Apparel, which filed for Ch.11 bankruptcy in September 2015, (-17.2%); Vera Bradley (-15.0%); Christopher & Banks (-12.4%); JCrew (-11.0%); Guess (-10.0%); Aeropostale (-8.0%); Lands’ End (-7.5%); and Abercrombie & Fitch (-4.0%). “
Large departments stores have long been known to have at least one in-store café at many locations, and oftentimes more inside their flagship stores. However, as stores struggle to bring their customers back to the mall – many are turning to partnerships with restaurants.
Urban Outfitters is certainly one of those stores that knows their market: millennial teens. And what do they eat? Pizza. Heschmeyer, in the same article that referenced the fall in sales of brick-and-mortar stores, said that the chain “announced plans to acquire award-winning eatery Pizzeria Vetri and other restaurants from The Vetri Family group of restaurants,” a move that despite logic, saw the firm’s share price drop. It appears that not everyone (investors and all) is convinced that the intersection of food and clothing
Later this year, they plan to open Space 24 Twenty in Austin near UT, which “includes an expanded Urban Outfitters store and several food and beverage concepts, including Pizzeria Vetri and Michael Symon’s Burger Joint. The store and the restaurants are clustered around an open-air courtyard that offers restaurant seating and a stage for special events and concerts.”
Whether or not retailers moving into mixed-use projects will end up driving more traffic remains to be seen – malls have had food courts for years. However, by making commercial space more of a destination than a means-to-an-end, retailer may succeed in attracting new consumers and driving up in-store sales.