Retail

Mall developer: Services like 'valet'-style curbside pickup could attract consumers to stores

Key Points
  • Convenience shopping services could help malls compete with online retailers, The Forbes Company's Nate Forbes says.
  • Shopping centers can tap into consumer confidence by offering more "experiential" shopping, he says.
VIDEO4:1904:19
Malls compete for shoppers from e-commerce ahead of holidays

Shopping centers could find ways to draw consumers out of the house and into retail stores by offering "seamless and frictionless" experiences such as curbside pickup, mall developer Nathan Forbes told CNBC on Wednesday.

The president and managing partner of The Forbes Company, which runs luxury shopping centers in Michigan and Florida, said curbside pickup doesn't deter shoppers from going into the mall. Instead, the service compliments shopping, he said.

"They'll come to the mall. They'll buy their stuff. We'll have it picked up," Forbes explained on "Power Lunch."

Runners would be dispatched to each store to gather the items that customers have bought.

"We'll aggregate it together and we'll have it available for you at the valet outside the shopping center at the curb when you're ready to leave the shopping center," he said.

It's one strategy Forbes said retail centers can leverage to tap into the uptick in consumer spending, which could produce $1 trillion in sales this holiday season. Deloitte predicts that online sales could spike as much as 22 percent this year.

Meanwhile, shopping malls are facing more threats of empty storefronts as department store operators such as Sears see mass closures and brands such as Gap Inc. threaten to turn out some lights, too.

But Forbes is not worried about online competition during the all-important holiday shopping season because consumers have "become agnostic as to how they shop," he said. Appealing services and environments make "experiential" and brick-and-mortar shopping worthwhile, he argued.

"When you look at the total gross numbers, retail sales this holiday selling season could [top] $1 trillion during the holiday selling period," he said. "And still, with all the online shopping, 87.5 percent of that $1 trillion will be done in brick-and-mortar business."