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Shopping centers all over North America are investing more and more into dining options.

Danica Lo
August 12, 2016

Attention shoppers! Here's one good reason to power down your laptop and head over to your local mall: increasingly awesome food options.

With the growing popularity of online shopping, malls and stores just aren't seeing the amount foot traffic they once did—and the downward spiral of shopping IRL is having a serious impact on both commercial real estate and conventional retailers. We've all seen those spooky images of abandoned megamalls and shopping centers around the world, right? Well, now, some malls in Canada are doing something about it—and that something is a concerted effort to lure shoppers back by appealing to their taste buds.

According to a report in the Toronto Star, malls in the Greater Toronto Area are heavily investing in expanded food courts—like the Scarborough Town Centre, which has recently rolled out the beginnings of its $37 million dining options makeover, or Sherway Gardens, which unveiled a chandelier-decorated 1,000-seat "Gourmet Fare" food pavilion late last year. "I think you're going to see the percentage of food increase in shopping centers across the board," Scarborough's general manager Robert Horst told the paper. "We've already seen that trend start to happen in the U.S."

He's right—reimagining dining concepts is something American shopping centers have been experimenting with over the past decade, all in an effort to keep shoppers interested. According to a market survey as far back as 2007, "shoppers spend almost 20 percent more at a mall with a 'good food court'" and in 2011, food courts and restaurants brought in $792 and $459 per square foot, respectively. The Star points out that dining is so important to malls that over the past ten years, mall space dedicated to food has grown from a mere five percent to between 15 and 20 percent.

We can't wait to see what new dining developments happen at malls around the country. Sometimes, though, a great food court is one that conveniently unites all the fun usual suspects in one place—because sometimes all you want in life is a good old Johnny Rockets and some Panda Express.