Shopping malls getting creative to draw the crowds

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Online shopping is expected to make a 15 percent jump this year so shopping malls have become even more creative to attract crowds this year.

For a growing number of people, the decision is a toss-up: do I do my holiday shopping with a click of a button in the warmth of my own home or do I head out to the stores?

Retailers like Bass Pro Shops know you can't just sell products anymore;  the shopper demands an experience.

Even though Neil Geisler was with his son in Bass Pro Shops on Wednesday, he said he prefers to shop online.

So do a growing number of shoppers. People like Neil are expected to spend about $80 billion this year online, a 3 percent jump from last year.

Retail stores like Bass Pro Shops and shopping malls like Independence Center know if they don't want their sales to go south, you have to go north - to the North Pole.   At Bass Pro Shops, it's not the Santa from the old days.
     
The massive outdoor chain has created a wonderland with toy trains, race cars and interactive games. The experience is expected to bring in a million children this holiday season.

"We'll see thousands and thousands of kids and parents shopping," General Manager Ryan Eberly said.

The experience brings in the masses and while they wait, they bring extra sales even from people like Neil, the online shopper.

The National Retail Federation projects holiday sales are to reach about $600 billion this year, up from last year.

Independence Center is rolling out a big list of new experiences this year to differentiate their stores from the online experience.

"We have breakfast with Santa where kids can come out and hang out with Santa," Heather Fischer with Independence Center said,

They have also rolled out new kiosks, entertainment groups and new earlier hours for the first time ever. 

"It used to be at midnight but this year it will be 8 o'clock," Fischer said.

"We're expected to bring in the largest crews in the 2 years we've been here," James Maiden with The Buckle said.

But malls and retailers believe no matter how big sales get online, there will always be Christmas cheer for the in store experience.

"People want to try on that sweater," Fischer explained, "or that sparkly ring and then get the immediate gratification of taking it home."

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