Come to eat, stay to shop

Shopping centres on the Gold Coast are reinventing themselves as lifestyle destinations.

Because of our busy lifestyles and the competitive market driven by online shopping, it makes sense to work, live, eat and party all at the same place. We’re seeing a reinvention of the shopping experience based on two mutually acceptable desires: retailers’ wish to keep shoppers engaged for longer and shoppers’ growing expectations of immersive experiences and immediate needs gratification.

Several of our shopping centres are well on the way to creating an ‘eat or shop’ dilemma, with shoppers opting to either eat and meet, shop and dine or party and movie in a single trip.

Pacific Fair’s $670 million redevelopment includes high end fashion shops with enticing fit outs, attracting international shoppers and lots of onlookers. The centre has also established itself as a dining destination, growing in popularity as its eating areas opened like the unwrapping of a delicious present.

Now there’s a choice of fast food diners as well as high end restaurants emerging in several distinct areas of the centre such as The Patio and Resort precincts. There’s a great range of fresh, healthy and delicious food on offer at Pacific Fair, not just for fast dining but also for fine dining.

In the meantime, Robina has opened its 55-store-strong foodie area, The Kitchens, quite different to the Pacific Fair experience, with artisan makers and cooking classes on view. The Kitchens strives to maintain intimacy in a spacious venue with discreet dining corners and lots of variety in its offerings.

Pacific Fair and Robina both show us that preconceptions of shopping centre dining have dramatically changed. Now, we can not only go shopping and stay longer, but we may also go there with dining as a primary purpose and stay to shop.

Micro food and coffee shopping experiences, such as the coffee shop within Book Face in Pacific Fair, ‘soften’ the shopping experience, providing a second stream of income for the store while making shopping fun and more comfortable for the consumer. The Kitchens has opted for a ‘marketplace’ approach including popup stalls of excellent niche single products, such as Portuguese tarts and a resident working beehive as attractions.

Simply put, retailers and designers have realised that because we can shop online, shopping centres need to be more about community, destinations where you can ‘eat, work, live, play’ (and shop). Who could ask for more?

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NOTE: This article was published in The Sun on 6 December 2017.