Lifestyle centers rose in popularity with consumers as an antidote to the sameness they see had seen in their local retail offerings.
Lifestyle retailers and their host facilities compete less on price and more on innovation in store merchandise and the retail experience itself.
Some characteristics common to lifestyle retail centers include an open-air configuration, a tenant mix of apparel and home goods, along with some tenancies related to entertainment: movie theaters, books, music, and the like. Lifestyle centers also are home to table-service restaurants. This being said, these centers are not derivative of some standardized formula; rather, each tends to succeed based on somewhat varying circumstances.
Lifestyle centers emerged after, but as part of, a resurgence of interest among consumers towards “main street” style retailing as well as a major effort to develop “urban entertainment centers” (Universal Studios, SONY, Disney, among others). These trends were supported by general industry acceptance of “placemaking” and “gathering place” sensibilities.
As well, retailers that preferred “main street” type locations found lifestyle shopping centers to be similar in terms of their store siting criteria.
The lifestyle retail center product is also popular with developers as this essentially anchor-less type of retail depends as much on creating pleasant strolling walkways and gather-and-stare plazas, as on the leading retailers included. Lifestyle centers are typically open-air.
Prominent lifestyle centers developed in the U.S. include Eastwood Town Center in Lansing, Michigan (2002); Denver Pavilions (1998); The Shops at Sunset Place in South Miami, Florida (1999); and the Commons at Calabasas in California (1998). Since these early prototypes, developers throughout the U.S. have been borrowing best-practices from many excellent examples of this retail center type, and have applied “lessons learned” to many hundreds of new lifestyle center developments.
Over the last couple of years, lifestyle retail centers have been impacted by the demise of many long-established “national credit” retailers.
The term “lifestyle center” is generally considered to have been first used with regard to The Shops of Saddle Creek in Germantown, Tennessee (1987), although retail destinations with lifestyle-center attributes pre-date Saddle Creek.