Outdoor Water Features Present New Opportunities for Retail Centers
Posted in OTL Newsletter -
As the weather warms up, we are reminded that an unexpected benefit of the COVID pandemic for retail centers was the advent of activated outdoor spaces. Restaurants arranged seating areas in their parking lot or on the sidewalk around their establishment where diners could enjoy a meal out without concern. Retailers brought merchandise outside where customers could browse and pay for their purchases. The great outdoors became an extension of the store and retail center—an innovative solution to an otherwise confounding and problematic situation.
The interesting thing about these trends is they have mostly remained even though the pandemic has ended—and outdoor solutions in particular appear to be here indefinitely because consumers have come to like and depend on them in their daily lives.
This creates the perfect scenario for retail stakeholders to incorporate outdoor water features into their centers. As a design/build company that specializes in delivering world-class water features, rockwork, and themed environments to a variety of spaces, our company has observed how beautifully designed outdoor spaces that include water features can breathe new life into retail centers and transform them into places people want to visit again and again.
Here, some tips for retail owners and operators to use outdoor water features as part of their operations strategy.
Create central gathering spaces.
Since the dawn of time, people have looked for places to get together with friends, family, and co-workers to socialize—all the better for their health and vitality if it’s outside in the fresh air. Retail owners and operators can create outdoor central gathering spaces that include attention-grabbing water features in front of their centers to draw in a whole new group of potential customers.
An example of this is the centerpiece water feature our team designed and built at The Veranda, a 375,000 square-foot retail, dining and entertainment destination in Concord, California. The musical fountain is centrally located at the venue, surrounded by food and beverage tenants, and serves as its focal point, an ideal spot for folks to gather with the people they care about and enjoy an afternoon or evening out.
In addition to attractions like this, shaded areas with comfortable seating, fire pits, and plenty of room for people to set down their purchases and rest awhile can make for ideal gathering places at retail centers.
Provide engaging programming.
Outdoor entertainment introduces an exciting element into a retail center that goes beyond merely selling goods and services. It can dazzle and delight visitors and keep them coming back for more.
Our team saw this phenomenon come to life at the second phase of Renaissance at Colony Park, an open-air destination retail center in Ridgeland, Mississippi, where we delivered a spectacular show fountain that provides guests with a unique visual and concert-quality experience. The cutting-edge audio, lighting, and effects of the water feature combine to present customized shows that take this central gathering space to the next level: a hub of entertainment.
This type of programming can rejuvenate a destination’s outdoor spaces and provide new ways to attract customers on a regular basis. Programming like this amplifies a retail center’s ability to bring in locals and tourists from miles around and encourage them to linger longer.
Make the space look attractive.
It’s no secret that people love to visit beautiful places. An artfully designed shopping center can provide them with this unforgettably gorgeous outdoor experience—something they can’t get from online shopping behind a screen. To that end, brilliantly colored landscaping, lighting, and a stunning fountain can fit the bill.
For example, in Downtown Summerlin, an urban retail center in Las Vegas, Nevada, we installed several water features, including a water wall featuring a constant flow of water that elegantly follows trails of kiln-formed Wavelet decorative glass, along with orchestrated twists of water that cascade down three sides of an iconic, illuminated 35-foot bronze sculpture to create a continuous flow of water that congregates in a 100-foot-long, kidney-shaped pond. The result is a feast for the eyes that repeatedly draws visitors in to experience this beauty.
Incorporating attractive elements like these into a retail center encourages people to check out the destination and revisit it time and again.
Taking advantage of outdoor space to bring in customers and generate sales is seems to be a retail strategy that is here to stay—in warm weather and all year round. By creating central gathering spaces, providing engaging programming, and upping the attractiveness factor in their outdoor areas, retail owners and operators can use water features to drive foot traffic, sales, and ROI for the long term.