Are Retail Vacancies in Your Shopping Center Impacting Your Business?

You have seen the articles, read the on-line news stories and seen the TV broadcasts that say that the enclosed shopping mall is dead.   But it is more than the traditional shopping center that is in danger.  With the demise of major retail players like Circuit City and Bed, Bath & Beyond, along with the continued downsizing national chains like Blockbuster, many retail shopping complexes are looking more empty than full. 

This includes newly built structures.  As an example, in my own town, a new lifestyle center was erected less than 2 years ago.  It has space for over 80 stores plus offices and residential units.  I drove through this past weekend there is still at least 50% vacancy.  The retailers that are there are definitely running under plan.  So what do you do if you have a long term lease and your shopping center has fallen on hard times?

If getting out of your lease and relocation is not an alternative, you will need to fall back on the proven techniques that have helped many retailers survive difficult times.  Prime among these is making your retail business a destination in itself.  Here are some actions that you can take to weather the storm:

         –  Draw customers in with coupon and flyer campaigns – these are inexpensive to implement and direct the customer to your retail store.

         –  Work on co-promotions with other businesses and civic organization in your area – create joint ads, cross promotions, and selling events.

         –  Network with other businesses – start with your local Chamber of Commerce (who has a vested interest in helping you succeed) and move through other groups or attend local business networking events.

         –  Bring your store to the customer – whether it is having a sidewalk sale or broadening your reach with a web store, every little bit of extra foot/web traffic helps

         –  Invest in training your team members – You have worked hard at getting customers to come to your location.  Now you need to make sure they have a great experience by giving your team members product, sales, and retail customer service training.  Studies have shown that businesses that invest in training perform 45% better than those who do not.

        –  Use bounce back offers – Now that your customer has gotten to your store and given them great service, invite them back.  Use a bounce-back coupon, create a customer loyalty program, and use weekly email blasts or text blasts to get the message out.

You can weather the storm and come out stronger by applying these and other simple, effective, and low cost tactics to your business.



David Goodwin is the principal at Retail Advocacy Group and Retail Training Services.  With over 30 years experience operating hundreds of retail stores and training thousands of retail sales representatives he and his team are focused on helping retailed improve their sales and operational efficiency so they can grow their profits.  To learn more about their training and retail operations consulting programs please visit