What are we going to do with giant shopping centres and their sprawling car parks?
From an Australian perspective, and down here we have some whopper malls with mega space rental rates for retailers, the future of shopping is currently a hot topic.
One reason is the rise of internet shopping, with Aussies spending their hard-earned high-value dollars on buying goods from overseas, saving on the 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST) into the bargain.
Billionaire retail barons are spitting mad about it. But there are limits to the retail categories which can be sold effectively online, and governments are unlikely to pass new laws to stop consumers picking up a few good deals over the internet.
Besides, I reckon there are bigger issues for the future of all that valuable mall infrastructure. So what might the future hold?
Here's my top-of-mind transformation for our big shopping centres:
1. Car park space will be far too valuable to use it all for parking
2. As efficient community hubs, shopping centres will have their own 'catchment areas' and will run transport systems to bring in the customers and deliver them home with their purchases and happy memories (experiences will be at least as big a part of the transaction base as physical stuff)
3. Modest parking areas with recharging facilities can be maintained for customers coming in from further afield in their EVs, although they may need to book in well ahead
4. Shopping centre roofs will need to include major solar PV and solar furnace arrays, and park garden retreats for shoppers, while lower levels that were once car parking will become urban market gardens with renewable powered growing lights, water captured on site and waste recycled into fertiliser
5. Centre-grown produce will be sold on-site along with home-grown produce coming in from customers' gardens and local community production
6. The shopping centre will be a local area energy services centre as well, offering community members energy supply and management packages, energy saving training and support and much more
7. Efficient centralised services including laundry and food preparation also will be based in the shopping centre hub, along with multi-purpose government service offices
There's no doubt many more ideas for this transformation of the mall. What are you thinking?