If you’ve ever gotten lost in a shopping centre, you’re not alone. In fact, it’s designed that way to be confusing and to get you to spend more money.
“There is a whole lot of psychology involved and fundamentally the final shopper is not high on the list of concerns,” University College London architecture professor Alan Penn said to news.com.au.
One popular tactic employed by shopping centres is known as the “dog bone” and is embedded into the way that the floor plans are designed.
“The dog bone design for shopping malls comes from the US and is geared to a culture of car access,” Prof Penn said.
“The aim is to get people in and then to keep them in as long as possible wandering up and down the length of the bone between anchor stores.”
Another tactic is not having clocks in the shopping centre so you can’t see how much time you’ve spent in the shopping centre, but with the popularity of smartphones that have clocks on them, this doesn’t impact the shopper as much as it used to.
The food court is another tactic.
“One of the only thing centres used to do to get people to stay longer was to have a food court,” said Australian retail consultant Michael Baker.
“But it wasn’t too fancy, just a place to refuel so people could go around again.”
The final tactic? Getting you lost on purpose.
By adding curves and making it confusing to get where you need to go, you’ll spend more money and time in the shopping centre.
Prof Penn said this made malls less “intelligible” which was the plan as, “it removes your ability to act with intention”.
However, due to the sharp decline of department stores in shopping centres, companies are having to reinvent the shopping centre in order to keep customers.
With the addition of cinemas, childcare centres and the demand from customers for more fancy food options, it’s clear what shopping centres need to do in order to keep customers happy.
“Food is no longer just fuel, it constitutes a shopping centre anchor in itself,” Mr Barker said.
“If you have al fresco dining then you need a very different design to the shoebox mall. You have to face outward to the streets, so expect more open air centres.”