The Snow Park at Ski Dubai is an example of how shopping malls use recreational areas to draw visitors. Image Credit: Gulf News archives/Karl Jeffs

In the past, when you had to buy something, you would make your way through bustling alleys full of crowded stalls, where vendors would sell everything, from clothes and rugs to spices and fresh produce. Those kinds of marketplaces still exist in many parts of the world, especially in the East, but when the 20th century rolled around, many of them evolved into indoor retail destinations – shopping malls.

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Despite the rising trend of online shopping, brick-and-mortar retail centres are still drawing crowds. According to US-based predictive analytics company First Insight’s 2019 study of consumer behaviour, 71 per cent of shoppers said they spend more per visit in-store than online. And 73 per cent more consumers preferred to shop in-store than online, when they had a need for something.

One of the main reasons for shopping malls’ appeal today is the fact that they are evolving into destinations for experiences rather than just for retail. According to a 2019 Forbes article, as millennials and Gen Z’ers mature and their purchasing power increases, they prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of material things.

Malls around the world have taken notice. Now, rather than focusing on promoting their big-brand department stores, they are making sure they have recreation or entertainment zones like cinemas, bowling alleys, karaoke rooms, restaurants, and children’s areas. In the case of the UAE, there are even ski slopes and aquariums.

The evolution of malls is also great for small businesses, because the concept of pop-ups and other short-term retail strategies mean that brands can test the market and location with minimal risk, according to the Forbes report.

When was the last time you went to a shopping mall? Play today’s Word Search and let us know at games@gulfnews.com.