Shopping centre design

Ever wondered why you lose track of time and space in a shopping centre?
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01.Strategic shopping centre design


A shopping centre can’t hold you against your will, but it can be designed to make you stay longer than you intended.

Tricky architecture and subconscious marketing can slow you down and, theoretically, keep you shopping. The idea being, the longer you linger, the more impulse buying you’ll do.

In this article, you'll find:

  • Tactics used in shopping centre design, such as the "decompression" zone, channelling foot traffic, intentional disorientation and manipulation of your senses.
  • Results of our shopping expedition.
  • The future of shopping centre consumer research: in-mall tracking.  

What experts say

“At the mall, the plan is to maximise unplanned purchases – to get people to stay longer and deviate from their plans,” says Charles Areni, professor of marketing at Macquarie Graduate School of Management

Not all researchers believe mall designers are manipulative. But media analyst Douglas Rushkoff argues a number of strategies are being used to create environments that encourage consumers to spend up big. The idea is to disorient the shopper and soften them up for manipulation. Read more on these tactics.

Tips to avoid impulse buying

  • Have a plan Make a list and stick to it. 
  • Set a budget Having an amount you plan to spend means you’re forced to make a trade-off if something else attracts your eye. 
  • Pay cash Shoppers spend more when paying with a credit card, so spending cash instead makes you more aware that you’re parting with actual dollars.
  • Set yourself a time limit, perhaps by planning a later engagement so that you don’t lose track of time and get tired. Studies show that when you’re fatigued you have less self-control and are more likely to buy impulsively. 
  • Shop at places you know It takes you longer to shop in an unfamiliar environment.



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