Entertainment Center

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The idea of adding a major entertainment center to a shopping mall has been gaining popularity over the past few years. Several of these so called 'mega-malls' have been constructed in various regions of the country, with substantial square footage allocated to large-scale entertainment centers. The first major entertainment mall was probably the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, which came complete with a full amusement park and indoor surfing. Some of the largest U.S. entertainment malls now include The Mall of America in Minnesota, Forest Fair Mall in Cincinnati, River Fair Mall in Louisville, North Park Mall in Davenport, Iowa, and the Sawgrass Mills Mall in Florida. The entertainment centers in these mega-malls typically feature attractions like: carrousels, ferris wheels, trains, bumper cars and other children's rides, skill games, bowling alleys, miniature golf courses, roller or ice skating rinks, and video arcades. The generally accepted notion within the industry is that such entertainment centers can substantially extend a mall's draw, lengthen shopper stays, and increase revenues for tenants. Patterson (1994) points out that entertainment centers function as anchors in malls, "they are a traffic generator without being a competitor with smaller specialty stores". Risley (1990), further points out that "there is a growing recognition in the industry that fun and games - if done properly - not only can attract shoppers but also can improve the bottom line". Forest Fair Mall, in Cincinnati, which was on the brink of filing for bankruptcy in 1989, is said to have saved itself from disaster by installing rides and games. Forrec International of Toronto Canada, calculates that major amusements can extend a mall's draw by as much as five times current industry averages. Whereas shopping centers used to be in the business of selling only merchandise, they now see themselves as being in the business of providing fun and entertainment, and an enjoyable family shopping experience. In fact, this growing trend, and the success of most of these mega-malls has mall developers now looking at other attractions in addition to amusement rides, e.g., theme museums, aquariums etc. However, there has been very little academic research done across different malls that lends support to these arguments about the substantial benefits provided by entertainment centers. Most of the available research studies are those done by individual malls which have primarily dealt with the amount of patronage at the entertainment centers and the mall in general, and the overall draw of the mall. There has been almost no focus on the exact extent to which the existence of an entertainment center impacts the shopping behavior of consumers in terms of the distance traveled to reach the mall, the amount of time and money spent at the mall, and the extent of patronage at other mall stores. The present study examines the impact of such entertainment centers by investigating the characteristics and shopping behavior of consumers who visit the entertainment centers, and comparing these to the characteristics and shopping behavior of customers who did not visit the entertainment centers. LITERATURE REVIEW

The concept of 'entertainment' is hard to define in the context of a shopping center. It could be viewed in a very narrow sense as consisting of just fides, games, and shows, or in a broad sense as a combination of the entire shopping experience. The present study, however, focuses specifically on common area entertainment centers within malls, operationally defined as a concentrated, centralized, entertainment area of at least 30,000 square feet and containing a variety of entertainment opportunities, including various types of rides for children, carrousels, miniature golf courses, soft play structures, simulator rides, etc. Although malls have traditionally offered several different types of entertainment options, it is this category...
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