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It appears the issue of "sameness" is a hot topic in all sectors of the retail and consumer sectors.
I came across this new study of consumers by the Wharton's School Jay H. Baker Retailing Initiative that found that 35 percent of shoppers surveyed said that "lack of anything new and exciting" is one of their biggest complaints about malls, along with parking.
"The same set of usual suspects is in every mall," said Wharton Marketing Professor Stephen Hoch in a Wharton story about the study. "In the biggest malls, it's the same stores you have seen a zillion times, just more of them."
Hoch predicts 10 percent of the country's retail infrastructure could disappear in the recession. He said landlords need to get creative in how to fill that space.
Still, he doesn't think local independent stores that could liven up the mix are necessarily a good fit for malls, either.
"People are complaining about the same-old, same-old, but I think it's not clear that mall shoppers are the most creative group out there. They do go for predictability," Hoch said. The high rents independent stores would have to pay at the mall would not usually offset the benefits of capturing walk-by traffic, he said.