Rethinking China Retail 2020 by Eric J. Dempsey

Eric Dempsey takes an insightful look at current retail challenges, past mistakes, and predictions for the near future

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概述 | Summary

对于零售业的下一步发展,中国的消费者有哪些话要说?现在是时候让我们去重新构想公共空间的潜力了。作者Eric Dempsey在本文中探讨了零售业在当下面临的挑战以及过去曾经出现的问题,并对不久的未来做出了预测。

Will Chinese consumers have a say in what’s next for retail? It’s time we reimagine the potential of our public spaces. Author, Eric Dempsey takes an insightful look at current retail challenges, past mistakes, and predictions for the near future.


Misguided efforts of the past


Traditional forms of retail development have failed us. Retail commercial developments like ghosts are now quickly becoming sources of blight throughout the world. This includes a wide ranging majority of commercial development; including big-box strip-malls, satellite drive-ins, and even the traditional large scale shopping mall. Is this a sign of things to come for China?

更加便捷的在线购物和送货上门正在迅速取代这些传统空间的主要功能, “购物中心”曾经是购物的标志,现在,它变得空洞了,它的许多缺陷都被暴露了出来,一旦商业中心活跃起来,这些发展模式便抛弃了许多传统的建筑理念,规划和设计概念,以追求便利,效率,和利润。


More convenient online shopping and home delivery are quickly replacing the primary function of these sterile generic spaces. “The Mall” was once the hallmark of shopping. Now void, it’s many flaws are laid bare. Once active centers of commerce, these forms of development cast aside many traditional notions of architecture, planning, and design in favor of expedience, efficiency, and profit.

Void of activity retail property managers face an existential dilemma. How might these developments be repurposed? Some malls are merely demolished rather than continue maintenance costs. Looking back at recent history, what lessons can be learned and predictions made for the future? How can we re-think retail?


Localized Developments

过去一段时间上海的零售市场异常活跃, 这是由于其庞大的数量,动力和不断增长的消费者购买力,拥有总人口数为2400多万的市场需求量, 然而上海并无法幸免于现代零售问题,日益增长的商铺空置率足以体现这个市场已经在面临挑战需要调整布局及战略!

上海已经有大量的大型高端购物中心商店的建设投资, 上海被称为“购物之城”,其庞大的地铁网络将零售购物空间一个一个地连接起来,就像无止境的网络一样,而且每一个看起来都一样!

The Shanghai retail market activity has been insulated from slumps in the past. This is due to its sheer mass, momentum, and growing consumer purchasing power. The population totals 24 million people of an emerging economic giant! Nevertheless, Shanghai is not immune to modern issues and should adapt when needed.

There has been significant construction investment of new retail shopping spaces throughout Shanghai. It has been called “the city of shopping malls”. Shanghai’s vast network of subway lines strings together one after another retail shopping space, a seemingly endless network, and it all looks the same!

新的发展模式越来越西方化采取了西方化, 这些空间中的大多数风格都采用了西方通用的零售设计标准,很少进行创新或适应当地条件, 这是有问题的,因为我们已经看到了西方这些空间的颓化, 很少有项目偏离此规范,尽管已经错过了许多机会,但请抱以希望,为时不晚。

New developments have taken westernized forms. The majority of these spaces have imported generic out-dated retail design standards with little innovation or adaptation to local conditions. This is problematic, as we have already seen the decay of these spaces in the West. Few projects have deviated from this norm. Although there have been many tragic missed opportunities, take hope, it is not too late.



How can we repurpose outdated shopping malls?


Mixed-use increases activity

为了创造生活价值,我们必须将目光放长远,不能只顾眼前利润,要重新利用大型购物中心,我们需要重新考虑其“价值最大化”,城市可以通过创新产业重新组合, 考虑重新改建购物中心,例如一所新的教育空间创新的小学配套健全的诊所,全名公共健身配套娱乐设施,传统的农产品温室,未来我们要让城市回归大自然,整个城市和社会肯定会受益。 创造具有特征性的社交空间要求我们允许自己跳出方框重新思考,考虑一下合作办公工作空间以及室内游乐园,大型室内健身中心,一切皆有可能。


We must reconsider a malls “highest-and-best-use” to create real value and life for the community beyond simple commercial interests. Architects and interior designers should have much to say in this regard. A simple first step to reactivating these spaces is implementing a mixed-use space plan. Newfound activity can be generated with new innovative tenant-mixes. Synergy can be formed via combinations of creative spaces. Consider repurposing a shopping mall to include a new state-of-the-art elementary school, together with a health clinic, public fitness facilities, a farmers market, and traditional retail. The community would certainly benefit.
Creating social spaces with unique identities requires that we allow ourselves to think outside of the box. Consider the synergy between office and co-working spaces, together with an indoor amusement park, entertainment venues, food, and beverage. The possibilities are endless.

Underutilized aging shopping malls are prime candidates for reconfiguration. Their neglected and typically brightly-lit public spaces can be greatly improved. Include landscaping and various functions in public avenues. The reactivated paths can have a unique identity and more smoothly merge the intermittent modular nature of various tenant spaces into one cohesive whole.


Repurposing & activating shopping malls


市场趋势将继续影响这些空间的重新组合, 如果您是企业主,那么哪些想法会创造更多价值? 物业经理需要主动以通过选择更多样化的租户来确保购物中心的长期发展。

Injecting heart and soul into retail shopping venues is long overdue.  Health & fitness will be a major trend in 2020. Envision an entire shopping mall with a health & fitness, sports theme. Large indoor running tracks looping throughout the environment, a rock climbing wall stretching across the levels of an atrium with an indoor pool and kayaks at its base. All of the activity surrounded by beautiful landscaping with greenery and atmospheric rainforest controls throughout.

Market trends will continue to shape the tenant-mix of tomorrow. If you were a business owner, what ideas would generate the most value? Property managers need to be more proactive to ensure the long-term viability of the mall through more selective choice of tenants.



How can retailers adapt to the changing economy?


COVID-19 New Corona Virus

新冠病毒疫情已袭击中国,并让我们受到重创, 对整个2020年来讲将产生持久影响,新冠病毒流行病在特别脆弱的时期爆发, 由于2019年未能达到经济预期,不确定性已经在增加, 这部分归因于全球民族主义的加剧,香港大规模骚乱以及中美贸易站。

在这种情况下,我们的希望是什么? 中国目前面临着一些独特的机会,可以进一步改善2020年新冠病毒对我们造成的影响:


The COVID-19 outbreak has hit China, and hit hard. There will be lasting impacts throughout 2020. The COVID-19 epidemic struck at a particularly vulnerable time. There was already growing uncertainty with 2019 falling short of economic expectations. This was due in part to increases in nationalism globally, HK mass rioting, & an extended China-US trade-war.

What could possibly be the silver lining in this situation? There are some unique opportunities facing China right now. Existing predictions for 2020 can be further updated to accommodate the impact of the Corona virus:

Changing market conditions will reward those able to quickly adapt.
Retailers who tap into online markets can stay relevant.
F&B deliveries will continue to skyrocket.
Landlords will continue to face declines in revenue and must adjust accordingly.


e-commerce continues to rise


随着消费者继续转向在线资源,预计餐饮和零售收入将出现重大下滑,现在,送货上门对于几乎所有消费品(包括食品杂货和生活用品)来说都是司空见惯的,需要新的解决方案来解决外卖包装的回收利用,以减少对自然环境带来的污染。 在新发现的经济不确定性背景下,中国新兴的中产阶级开始收紧预算, 在发生新冠病毒后,宅消费者的人数猛烈增长, 中国经济的潜在陷阱是消费能力的下降,使本已脆弱的经济状况更加复杂。

e-commerce will continue to be a major factor to retail growth in 2020. The COVID-19 epidemic will further amplify this shifting trend in consumer behavior and have far-reaching effects.

Expect a major downturn in F&B and retail revenues as consumers continue their turn to online sources.  Home delivery is now commonplace for almost all consumer goods including groceries and household items. Infrastructure is adapting to accommodate the overwhelming quantity of deliveries. New solutions will be needed to address the recycling & waste disposal of delivery packaging. China’s emerging middle-class are beginning to tighten their budgets amidst newfound economic uncertainty. In the aftermath of the Corona-virus, expect an uptick in consumers staying-in. A potential pit-fall for the Chinese economy is the downturn in consumer spending compounding an already fragile economic state.


omni-channel strategies


Online shopping has forever changed retail. Retailers must work harder to entice shoppers to visit, while also embracing omni-channel strategies.  People still love to look, window-shop, and buy. Shopping as an experience must provide fun, which in turn provides profits. Exciting combinations of functions and “moments” will be implemented to create places people want to be.



Digital & physical retail will merge in creative ways. An omni-channel model that provides seamless shopping experience through physical stores, online sites, social media and mobile browsing. Restaurant food packaging stations will increase in size to accommodate increases in online deliveries. Similarly, clothing shops will include customization stations with even more improved functionality.

Shopping malls in support of their retailers must embrace other functions beyond retail. By activating and improving their shopping venues with a diversity of functions, foot traffic can be improved. Retailers will need to consider items customers wouldn’t buy online.


Future certainty


最近的20年就是很好的例子。在2000年至2010年间,中国吸引了全世界的目光,并在2010年世博会上达到峰值,这段时间见证了大型建筑增长和基础设施的稳定发展。世界在关注中国,在2010年至2020年之间的几年中,我们开始看到中国市场成熟并通过改善与世界各地的联系来扩大其影响力,通过复杂的计划来实现目标,建筑空间的增长和发展得以继续,一带一路就是很好的例子。 5G等新的前沿技术正在中国内部涌现,尽管目前面临挑战,但可能是中国只是屏住呼吸,并做好面临任何直接的经济挑战,从而达到长期稳定,我们应该绝对有理由的保持乐观。

Believe in China. If recent history has proven anything, it’s that China, when committed to a cause, can move with unity and purpose, overcoming great challenges.

The last two decades are great examples. In 2000-2010 China captured the world’s attention, culminating in the 2010 World Expo like a coming of age party. The world took notice of the explosive construction growth and infrastructure development. During the following decade 2010-2020, we saw the China market mature and extend its influence with improved connections across the world. Construction growth and development continued with sophisticated planning and targeting of critical initiatives. Belt & road is one such example. New cutting edge technologies such as 5G, began emerging from within China. Although the current outlook looks dim, it might be that China is simply catching its breath. Expect China to confront any immediate economic challenges resulting in greater long term stability. There is reason for optimism.


Localized Developments



New high quality retail solutions can respond to local conditions and predictions for the future! Due to an over-abundance of generic shopping malls, there is an opportunity to reconfigure many aging retail environments to gain competitive advantages over the market. Lessons should be learned from the past. Alien sterile environments have reached their limit. How can we create something special for the local environment? Would a Shanghai design solution hold up in other Chinese cities? There is tremendous new opportunity in 2020 throughout mainland China.

It’s time we put some soul back into retail. There have been some attempts at injecting life into these sterile environments. Temporary pop-up retailing exhibits are increasingly popular, but they do not address the root of the issue. We have created so many retail spaces lacking permanence, and any real identity. We as designers, developers, and property managers need to address the larger issue of place-making, identity, & branding.

Part 1 in the “Vision of the Future” series by DDI 
作者 | Author: Eric J. Dempsey
日期 | Date: 2020.03.11

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