Shopping Malls in the New Normal

By August 13, 2020News

Shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic should be classified an extreme sport.

Throughout the entire shopping trip, from when a shopper enters the mall’s parking area, right up until the veggies are sanitised, scrubbed and safely stowed away at home, the shopper experience is fraught with invisible dangers. And sadly, being in a fight for survival when doing the milk and bread run has become our new normal.

The “New Normal”
comes at a price

According to analysts, a major risk factor impacting retailers and shopping malls globally is actually the lack of appeal that the “new normal” shopping environment holds.

Turns out, the constant reminders to sanitise and wear masks, combined with dark, empty or not-yet-trading stores, really puts a damper on the entire shopping experience.
Who would’ve thought?

But wait,
there’s more

All of a sudden, click-and-collect shopping and curbside pick-up, has become much more appealing. In a desperate bid for survival, retailers and shopping mall property owners are embracing the e-commerce trend before the need for physical stores disappears from the consumer’s purchase journey.

However, bricks and mortar stores still have a role to play, especially in South Africa, where shopping is considered a national sport.

The heart
of shopping

Nowadays, for shopping malls to remain relevant in the lives of weary shoppers, merely aiming to lure feet and spend back through large-scale sales and generic Covid-appropriate promotions won’t cut it.

The current sensitive shopper will be shopping around – not only for value and convenience, but shifting their loyalty to malls that are able to provide the experience they remember from a distant pre-Covid era.

” The physical experience of visiting a shopping mall has always been an exciting and anticipated experience, providing entertainment and inspiration.


for the win

Creating a memorable and emotive on-site shopper experience doesn’t require a complete transformation.
Simply consider these touch points:

  • Transparent, consistent and compassionate communication and instructions;

  • helpful, patient and most importantly, humane mall and store staff;

  • transforming dark, dreary tenant vacancies into fun, inspiring pop-up experiences through quirky visuals, touchless experiences, or via curated co-retailing spaces;

  • and creating an uplifting and relaxing atmosphere.

In a post-Covid 2020, those shopping malls able to throw back to a happier, pre-Covid time by creating seamless, inspiring experiences, will have the best chance to recapture the imagination, hearts and share of wallet of shoppers
in the long run.

Rekindle people’s
interest & excitement
for malls

As expert brand cultivators, our team at Mustard Seed have spent the last 20 years building brands and engaging with shoppers in more than 100 shopping centres across South Africa.

We know what it takes to wow customers and we’ve been hard at work conceptualising a menu of affordable, easily executable, quick turnaround ideas to bring vacant storefronts to life. Despite all the fear and uncertainty, we’ve found little thoughtful ways to brighten up people’s day and put a smile back on their faces – even if you can’t spot it under their masks.

Tanja Gerber

Strategic Marketing Director

 To find out which solutions will best suit your centre’s needs, contact us at and we’ll share our ideas to rekindle your customers’ love for shopping.