Comparison of Malls and Big Box Stores

Introduction

Consumer preferences are changing faster than ever before; it is therefore critical to keep up with these trends especially in light of competing interests between big box retail stores and malls.

The differences and similarities

Regional malls are typically much bigger than big box retail stores, with the latter accounting for a floor space of about one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred and thirty thousand square feet while the former may be between a half and three quarter of a million square feet. A mall may therefore be considered as a trading area while the big box retail store is most often understood a single housed store that offers one stop shopping merchandise to clients.

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People usually go to malls for different reasons from the big box stores. Because malls have greater space, they provide a lot of room for relaxation. These centers are normally located away from the hustle and bustle of the City and consumers can therefore enjoy their leisure time in comfort and serenity. One is not likely to find leisure seeking individuals in big box retail centers such as Walmart. Furthermore, malls are aesthetically pleasing.

They usually have elaborate architectural designs that make them quite interesting for hanging out (Kowinski, 12). In fact, this is one of the reasons why some of them are seen as tourist attractions. Some malls have reported that forty percent of their buyers are actually tourists.

In terms of consumer preferences and market share, it has been shown that shopping malls within the country have reported declining profits. This could be because of their architectural and store formats. Many consumers often complain that they are likely to find the same offerings in various shopping malls across their towns. There seems to be a lack of outstanding or distinct features between malls and this has caused buyers to be wary of them.

Prices differ substantially between these shopping arenas. Big box retail stores are generally known for their cheap prices. In fact, this has been the main reason why their market share is quite substantial. On the other hand, malls are known to be a lot pricier. Big box retail stores are able to achieve this through changes in their supply chain arrangements.

Normally, these supply chains are reorganized in order to minimize wastage of resources and to increase efficiency. Furthermore, because of their ability to purchase in bulk, the big box retail stores are able to take advantage of economies of scale and thus transfer the cost savings to the consumer through low prices. Therefore, many buyers will flock big box retail stores in order to save money especially during such difficult economic times (Wendel and Vedder, 12).

Big box retail stores pride themselves in the convenience they offer their consumers. Most of them prefer having stand alone access where ample parking space is available to consumers. Today’s employee is pegged with concerns about time management especially since some of them may be juggling two or three jobs.

These individuals are not likely to enjoy the services available in malls because they just do not have the time. They would rather visit big box retail centers where they can easily access merchandise and be well on their way to their daily responsibilities and tasks.

Shopping malls are usually located in distant premises and this means that shoppers must be ready to spend a lot of fuel in order to get to those destinations. This is not economical. Convenience may also be understood in terms of the range of goods available to the buyer. Big box stores normally offer one stop centers where anything from electronics to groceries to clothes to medicine can be found. This provision of a variety of goods under one roof causes many consumers to go to them.

In shopping malls, convenience can be understood in terms of the large variety of services available. People can find movie theaters, restaurants, salons, gymnasiums and other services conveniently in such areas. Therefore if a consumer is looking to enjoy a variety of services then the shopping mall would be the better option. However, if one wants a variety of goods then big box retail stores would be more appropriate (Wendel and Vedder, 6).

Community benefits are also highly quite immense in big box retail stress. Companies such as Walmart have accorded smaller communities opportunities to access retail merchandise without having to transport themselves to large urban areas. Some communities were even forced to do without these products because they were not easily accessible. Big box retail stores have therefore supported economics in small towns. Usually, malls are associated with urban centers and are mostly found in cities.

Rural communities may not be able to access such shopping centers because of the immense resources needed to build them or to make them work. Big box retail centers therefore empower these communities by according them services and employment opportunities that they would not have had access to. Malls on the other hand are quite debatable when it comes to the issue of community development.

Some people feel that malls cause people to move to the suburbs and hence lead to development. Conversely, others argue that it is the development in urban areas that causes entrepreneurs to build malls in such locations. These arguments can both be true depending on how one decides to look at it.

It can also be argued that malls are a reflection of American culture. This is because individuals get to meet and interact with one another. The malls provide room for things such as art and other forms of expression. They are not just regarded as retail centers but are more like meeting points. Big box retail stores core activity is retail and in this sense it is pretty unyielding when it comes to expressions of culture.

Both types of shopping centers have been criticized for their environmental impact. Big box retail stores often lead to sprawling in cities especially around the areas near these stores. Also, they may cause heavy traffic around them.

The same can be said of malls. Architectural designs often to do not put in mind these kinds of concerns. Normally, when building a shopping mall, a designer will use up as many resources or materials as he needs without looking at the consequences of such actions. This increases the environmental impact and makes matters worse.

Additionally, because of the distant locations of these shopping malls, it is often common to find huge car emissions brought on by traffic to such areas (Lee et al, 82). It can therefore be argued that both big box retail stores and shopping malls are known for huge effects on the environment and on urban planning.

In terms of customer service, one can argue that big box retail stores have specialized in this area more than their counterparts. Sales personnel in such areas are expected to have knowledge about the merchandise being sold. This is because of the immense training they go through during and prior to their employment.

Furthermore, most of them are available when consumers need their help or have a question to ask them. Lastly, these representatives are often very friendly and courteous. The same patterns may not be prevalent in malls because of the diversity and accumulation of product and service providers.

Conclusion

Big box stores are quite distinct from malls owing to their convenience, price, design, customer service and atmosphere. However, consumers can get time to relax, meet up and enjoy various services if they go to malls. These are all factors that can be enjoyed depending on the nature of the consumer.

Works Cited

Kowinski, William. The malling of America: a look at the great consumer paradise. NY: Mcmillan, 2000

Lee, Min Young, Atkins, Kelly, Kim, Youn Kyung, Park, Soo Hee. Competitive analysis between regional malls and big box retailers. Journal of shopping centre research, 31.1(2006): 82-100

Wendell, Cox & Vedder, Richard. The Walmart revolution. American Enterprise institute for public policy research, 2006

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