Sticking gyms in ailing malls won’t work, and here’s why: Jan Kniffen

By on March 13, 2018

From CNBC:  With retailers closing a record number of stores last year, malls have been experimenting with new types of businesses to drive traffic: Everything from restaurants and movie theaters to mini golf courses.

Now, there’s a new strategy that’s heating up – the gym. Over the last five years, gym leases in malls across the country have nearly doubled, according to commercial real estate information firm CoStar. They now account for 1 percent of all mall space in the U.S.

Meanwhile, gym memberships are also on the rise. Since 2009, 26 percent more people have joined a gym. That’s 19.3 percent of the U.S. population, or 57 million people, data from the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association said.

Mall operators are hoping gyms will not only bring people in to work out, but that they’ll stick around and shop.

However, some experts say that’s not really happening.

“Putting things in to get somebody to come to the mall is a good idea. The bad news is when it’s something like a gym you don’t get very much cross shopping,” Jan Kniffen, CEO of J. Kniffen Worldwide Enterprises CEO, told CNBC’s “On the Money” in an interview.

The retail consultant says people may go to a juice bar, or something that’s related to their work out —but that’s about it. As for malls that are putting in grocery stores, Kniffen says while that may drive foot traffic, it’s only to that particular store.

“When you put in a grocery store, people do not go in the mall. They go into the grocery store, they shop, and they go home.”

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