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Definitions of shopping mall from various sources are described below for understanding the characteristics of this retail format:. Webster Dictionary defines a shopping mall as:. A shopping arcade is a specific form serving the same purpose. A shopping mall, as defined, can be considered as an urban experience in a closed environment combining a large variety of stores together encouraging movement throughout the entire centre. Gilboa, . However, the massive growth has led to tightened business environment and mutual cannibalization among malls e.
Tssai, . The shoppers patronize the shopping mall to economize their shopping time by combining their purchase intentions from different categories of store and by making multi-purpose shopping trips e. Leszczyc et al. Customers, in a shopping mall, shop not only for goods or services but for several experiential and emotional reasons e. Babin et al. Retail tenants on the other hand come to shopping malls for enjoying high level of customer traffic for agglomeration of shops e.
Brueckner, . The success of a shopping mall is dependent on the mall configurationfor attracting and distributing customers throughout the mall and modifying their behaviour when they arrive near different stores e. Tenant mix or composition of stores, therefore, is a significant strategic mall management decision because success of a shopping mall depends on the success of the retail tenants else, they will simply move away from the mall and the success of the shopping mall itself else, it cannot sustain.
Studying the economics of configuration of shopping malls is, thus, a fertile area of study. Two factors contribute significantly as motivators behind the research. One pertains to the performance of the shopping malls and other to the complexity of its design development. For assessing the performance of the shopping malls, the Indian market scenario is considered, where the modern retail formats are on the rise.
The design development of a shopping mall is complex. Once the strategic decisions like location and format of the shopping centre is finalized, the concept is briefed to the designers for accommodating the functional requirements within a spatial envelope and for making the space aesthetically pleasant.
The transformation of the enclosure into an operational shopping space is achieved through the input of other players like retailer, mall management and leasing management. The process is explained with the diagram shown in Figure The retail sector in India has witnessed a significant transformation in the past decade and still experiencing a rapid growth.
The modern retail market heregrows twice as fast as the traditional trade. But instead of the growth, the shopping malls in India suffer from high mall vacancy rates. The following figures Figure , Figure will illustrate the situation of mall vacancy of few major cities of India.
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Figure Mall rentals and vacancy situations in major Indian cities Q1, source: Cushman and Wakefield, . New completions and absorptions, in terms of Gross Leasable Area GLA , of Indian shopping malls left vertical axis, Figure are expressed in Million Square Feet and vacancy rates right vertical axis are expressed in percentage of absorption. The root cause for this problem is poor tenanting decision, faultyanchor placement and irrationalrental plan.
A recent report in Economic Times India , Ghosh,  highlights the fact that retailers opt for high performing malls and for that they are ready to pay rent premiums. High performing malls are those which have low vacancy rates. A report from JLLM  identified mall management as a growing phenomenon in Indian retailing and listed tenant-mix, zoning and location of anchors as some of the most important functions of mall management.
For proper functioning of a mall, therefore, rental, tenanting and location decisions should be takenon a sound scientific basis and not on a rule of thumb approach. As discussed earlier, problem of mall vacancy is intrinsically spatial, but, the spatial intervention in the development of the shopping space is limited only to the creation of an enclosure for accommodating Gross Leasable Area GLA. The potential of space design is not fully explored in formulating strategic decisions like tenanting and rent allocations.
For addressing rental and space allocation issues, ideally, the spatial design and mall management decisions should complement each other, without keeping the spatial design as an end in itself. This integration of spatial design and strategic decision making will simplify design development and in turn, address mall vacancy issues based on a scientific rationale. Store space allocations, store location within a planned shopping centre and even the lease pricing of an individual store have spatial as well as commercial implications. Proper understanding of the store location, store space allocation and lease price discrimination most prevailing pricing method for stores in a shopping mall is leasing requires interdisciplinary knowledge of retail management and architecture.
The operation of the psychological mechanism of the environment, which influences behaviour, depends on the physical characteristics of the concerned environment. The physical characteristics include the differentiation of their appearance, visual access the environment provide and the complexity of the spatial arrangement e.
The psychological mechanism includes sensory access, attention, memorability, behavioural affordance, affect and sociality. The behavioural outcome in this case is movement, as identified from the previous discussion. Thephysical characteristics are embodied in the spatial layouts of the environment. The theoretical framework of Space Syntax provides an analytical tool for conceptualization and quantitative description of spatial layouts.
The quantitative description of configuration is proposed to explain a variety of manifestation of environmental psychology. The purpose of the research is to establish the between visual access and movement.
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The process is shown in the following Figure So, there are sufficient reasons to believe and ample evidences to support, that, human activity in general and retail consumer behaviour in particular, is profoundly influenced by built environment. This influence can be measured and shaped through spatial design interventions. This has necessitated researches in this particular area.
In the shopping centre industry, it has been found, that, developers normally follow some rules of thumb when deciding on store locations and rent allocations in their shopping centres. A wrong approach in taking these strategic decisions may lead to economic malfunction of the entire centre. In reality, the competition among stores for location within planned shopping malls is of interest to academic researchers in the field of marketing as well as to mall management professionals.
Hillier et al. The functional quality of a building can be explained as; the extent to which the built form provides a proper level of support for the envisaged activities.
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Shopping mall is one area where the economic sustenance is essential for the very existence of the building. So, for a shopping mall to be a success, economic rationale for spatial configuration is to be studied in detail. Retail researchers have focused on the movement of customers within shopping centres and considered metric distance as the only spatial aspect influencing rental differences e. On the other hand, space syntax method provides the configurational logic of spatial behaviours. Space syntax measures, through quantifying the configurational pattern, predict movement, e. Among several space syntax measures, visibility in Architectural configuration has emerged as a useful tool for understanding configuration and human behaviour e.
Other studies have suggested that VGA is best suited in enclosed spaces because of its simplistic approach compared to other methods of Syntactic Analysis Axial Line and Convex Space in highlighting locational differences e. Fong, In retail management, no study was conducted with characteristics of spatial configuration VGA measures in particular as independent variables. Thus, there is a gap between the outcomes of the in-store-movement genre of research, which have not been actualized in spatial configuration terms and the architectural input, which, in-spite of dealing with a design-centric holistic view, remains insufficient: too few studies on space syntax measures as independent variables have been conducted in retail environments.
Retail design research has the potential to bridge this gap through an understanding of retail spatial configurations VGA and its strategic implications. The broad framework of the study is shown in. The success of any real estate is largely dependent on its location, and is applied specifically to retail assets e. Levy,  , but surprisingly the use of techniques is not very popular in real estate research and management e.
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Dubin et al. A spatial statistical technique can be applied in this regard:. Adoption of spatial statistical techniques offers the opportunity to align theoretical considerations with empirical practice. For developing a model of profit maximization for shopping malls, proper understanding of the strategic significance of composition of different categories of stores in shopping malls and the benefits of spatial configuration bothshould be studied in detail.