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edition 4 (239)
April 2019
Retail & leisure

Shopping centres go social

Shopping centres go social
Community events create a dialogue with the local community and bring people into the mall who might otherwise stay away

POLAND The ban on Sunday trading has forever changed shopping habits and how shopping centres operate. On that particular day people now have more free time, while centres have a free space that they can use for non-commercial activities.

If not retail, then what?

Lately EPP has created its Social Activation Programme for Shopping Centres. Under this campaign shopping centres are opened up on Sundays to the local community as a place where events that support education, the environment and culture can be held. The organisations that hold such events are usually city councils, NGOs, schools, charities and sports associations. However, those who take part are usually people of all ages and represent the full cross-section of Polish society. Several such events have already been held in Galeria Echo in Kielce, as well as in Pasaż Grunwaldzki in Wrocław and the Galaxy mall in Szczecin. The range of events is very wide: sometimes the shopping centre space is filled with people playing board games, or playing chess or bridge. Kids will stretch their minds with logic puzzles, talent show contestants will show off on stage to a wider audience for the first time, live performances and concerts will be held as well as artistic workshops; people will come to see art or photo exhibitions, or young people will come to take part in the shows put on by their sports clubs.

The interest is there

“We’ve been receiving increasing numbers of applications with planning proposals from institutions, associations and even socially minded individuals. Our shopping centres are attractive not only because of their openness but also because off the opportunities they offer and the terms we offer for holding all kinds of events and activities. With this programme, we have also encouraged those groups in society that do not usually visit our shopping centres on a daily basis to come to our malls such as older people who like to go to cultural events or, when pestered by their grandchildren, attend board game tournaments or theatre performances.

We are very pleased with the growing footfall we have seen on non-trading Sundays but we are even more pleased with the increasing interest of institutions that want to work with us,” says Wojciech Gepner, the community director at EPP, who is responsible for organising the programme. The programme has now clearly shown that social projects can be an important and perhaps an inseparable element of the operations of a shopping centre. They allow a centres to hold a dialogue with their local communities, which makes them at the same time even more popular places to visit.

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