As Other Malls Die Off, This One In California Focuses On Asian Shoppers
When Taiwanese menswear brand SST&C opened its first U.S. store last year, the company bypassed glitzy shopping hubs such as Beverly Hills or South Coast Plaza in favor of a mall tucked into the San Gabriel Valley. What Westfield Santa Anita lacks in name recognition, it makes up for with one huge edge: a growing stable of Asian retailers catering to its well-heeled Asian community. “We thought it would be easier to introduce our brand to Asians than non-Asians,” said Claire Wang, general manager of SST&C, which stands for “Simple, Style, Trend & Casual Life.” Since October 2015, Westfield Santa Anita has brought in 26 new retailers and restaurants, about two-thirds of which — 16 stores — originated in Asia or are Asian-flavored. The new lineup includes an outpost of Muji, the popular Japanese design store, and Din Tai Fung, a Taiwanese chain best known for its soup dumplings. Westfield’s evolution comes as malls around the country are struggling with declining traffic and the rise of online shopping. Although that’s not a new trend, now it’s not just big department stores that are dying off; many once-popular brands such as BCBG and Wet Seal are also closing stores. In January, only 21% of U.S. consumers shopped at an enclosed mall, a 30% plunge from five years ago, according to Britt Beemer, founder of America’s Research Group. To survive, shopping centers are scrambling to bring in unique stores and restaurants. That’s a big shift from the days when they relied on the same arsenal of retailers selling to longtime consumers who came back season after season. Some centers are welcoming pop-up shops in an effort to cater to millennials. Others are looking to specialize around a theme — such as home improvement, by bringing in paint and furniture stores. Read more at Los Angeles Times.