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How the American Mall experience is evolving

Yahoo Finance’s Sarah Paynter joins The First Trade with Alexis Christoforous and Brian Sozzi to discuss how the American mall is changing as e-commerce trends and customer experiences move into focus.

READ: The American mall experience is evolving before our eyes — here's a virtual sneak peek

Video Transcript

BRIAN SOZZI: Welcome back to "The First Trade." The one, two punch of COVID-19 and the longtime shift to digital shopping are about to bring some major changes to America's malls. Yahoo Finance's Sarah Paynter I looked into this in a new special augmented reality feature now on YahooFinance.com.

Sarah is with us now. Sarah, it's good to see you and good to see this piece up and running. We really digged into what the future of the mall may look like. Walk us through some changes.

SARAH PAYNTER: Yeah, so there are three main things that are influencing the future of the mall right now. We're obviously going to need shoppers to feel comfortable. So there's going to be a lot of cleaning, hand sanitizer, branded masks, all those kinds of things to make them feel comfortable, but mixed in with an experience, making people feel like they want to go out and shop.

And that's because of the third factor of e-commerce, which is just, you can order it from your couch. So malls are going to really need to ramp up making people feel like they want to go and experience the shopping.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: What's the biggest things, Sarah-- also, by the way, the graphics on this look really amazing. If you haven't checked it out yet, folks, go our site. It's a virtual tour that you can take of the Mall of the Future. But what are some of the biggest changes that we're going to have to get used to, I guess, do you think, in the virtual Mall of the Future?

SARAH PAYNTER: Well, one of the things we're definitely going to notice first is fewer anchor stores. Anchor stores are like JC Penney's, Kohl's, those really big box stores.

They're going to start to be replaced with things like distribution centers for Amazon or even other, like, hotels used for different purposes that we might not traditionally see in a mall. Those are going to start to evolve, because they're not working as well in this shifting landscape of our shopping patterns.

BRIAN SOZZI: Sarah, one thing that I came away with in this, America, there's going be a lot of malls that go under. That's just the reality of the situation. But there still, you talk to a lot of experts out there, there still seems to be a place for the mall, a place to go and congregate, try on a new shirt, grab a burger. There's still some interest to have that in society.

SARAH PAYNTER: Yeah, definitely, so they're trying to change it so that e-commerce is not a competitor directly to what they're offering. They're trying to pivot and offer something unique from e-commerce.

So you can be ordering things on your couch, but then if you want to go out and have that experience of feeling the shirt with your hands and getting a pretzel, those are things that people really enjoy and still will continue to enjoy. So there's definitely a place moving forward for real in-person shopping.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: Do you think we're going to continue to see bowling alleys, ice skating rinks, movie theaters be part of the mall experience?

SARAH PAYNTER: The idea of that, entertainment in the mall, definitely yes. The specifics are going to pan out, and we'll have to see how they pan out. For example, movie theaters, we don't know how that's going to work, if people are going to want to go to movie theaters. But we are going to see yoga classes, and coworking spaces, and lots of entertainment options that can make the mall a more attractive experience, so yes, definitely.

BRIAN SOZZI: I'll say this, it was a real pleasure working on this with you. Sarah Paynter, thanks so much.