The West Edmonton Mall (WEM), once promoted as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” is a leading tourist attraction in central Alberta. The WEM covers 49 hectares and encloses 493 000 square metres of space – the equivalent of 104 football fields. For 24 years it was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest shopping centre. Below, you ca find an interview with WEM general manager Gary Hanson
Are entertainment industry operators effective anchor tenants in the process of attraction of the customers to the shopping centers?
In general, small entertainment offerings are not effective anchor tenants in attracting customers – these would be considered more “impulse” tenants – people go when they are here for something else.
However, in WEM’s case, we offer major world-class attractions that do, in combination with our unique and extensive retail offering, serve to attract guests to the mall – these are “destination” tenants.
The main reason people are attracted to come to WEM is the total package – the mix of entertainment and shopping – guests may come for one aspect but will rarely leave without doing the other – or they may come because they know they can experience both
What kind of entertainment is the best tenant for the shopping center (bowling, cinema, billiards, children playing zones, etc.)? Why?
There is no specific entertainment that is best for a shopping centre.
It is about creating a unique mix and providing as many options for people as you can – to create something new and different each time they visit.
The more options you provide, the more repeat business you will receive.
Is the balance between entertainment and retail sectors important for the effective work of the shopping and leisure sector?
Yes, the entire mix is what is key.
A 50-50 split of retail and entertainment is optimum.
Even retail is becoming more experiential now adding to that mix.
What entertainments does your shopping mall offer? Do you work on the same conditions with the retail and entertainment tenants (rent rates, discounts, special offers)?
Please see attached overview sheet of WEM for entertainment listing – WEM owns and operates nine major attractions, we also have other tenant who provide other smaller-scale entertainment such as a bingo, casino, etc.
We do not have the same conditions for retail vs. entertainment – our retail tenants operate the same way as a traditional shopping mall on a rent basis.
Entertainment tenants are dealt with differently and it varies – it may be percentage rent, gross rent, free, revenue sharing, etc. it is determined on case-by-case basis and on the value the tenant provides to the mall.
Is there any “formula” of “ideal balance” of retail and entertainment in the shopping center?
There is no specific formula but an ideal balance is 50/50.
For us, the key really isn’t balance, it is uniqueness – offering unique stores, services, entertainment, activities, etc. to attract guests
When (on what stage of development of the shopping mall) is it necessary to plan the presence of entertainment in modern shopping center? What are typical mistakes and miscalculations here?
This is a trade secret that we are not willing to divulge.
We have spent 25 years working on defining our business and feel that anyone would have to go through the same to see what works for them.