Mall = Good Food…

Hungry shoppers want good food. And it’s likely they’ll stick around and shop once they eat, benefiting both retailers and real estate owners that are taking note of this.

The talk of the biggest gathering of retail real estate professionals in the world, put on by the International Council of Shopping Centers and happening this week in Las Vegas, is food, according to handful of people attending the show.

A study released Monday at ICSC’s RECon by commercial real estate services firm Jones Lang LaSalle found, in surveying more than 1,500 U.S. adults in March, that 40% of customers will choose a center to shop at based solely on the food that’s there. And nearly 38% of people want healthy options when they go there.

Getting people into the mall with good food often means they’ll spend more, too, JLL found.

Transactions increase as much as 25% at malls with quality food-and-beverage options, JLL said, and shoppers who eat at the mall are spending up to 15% more per trip.

“With more focus on foodservice in shopping centers than ever before, shopping center owners must not oversupply the market with tired formats,” JLL said.

The American Dream mall, being developed by Triple Five Group and set to open this fall in New Jersey, is said to incorporate the first-ever entirely Kosher-themed food hall in the U.S., an example of one unique format coming to market.

Mall owners are increasingly building out food halls with local chef-driven eateries, sushi bars and premium coffee shops, as retailers like Payless ShoeSource, Gymboree and Charlotte Russe close up shop, leaving behind empty real estate.

In 2006, an average mall in the U.S. had roughly 10% of its square footage devoted to food, beverage and entertainment, according to commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield. Last year, that statistic had risen to about 20%, Cushman said. And it is expected to grow

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