Volume 27: Edition I 2022

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Volume 27: Edition I 2022 Sample

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Stockton Stories Is a Real Page Turner

There’s no question that COVID has taken its toll on children’s mental health all over the world. One joint mall initiative, however, gave youngsters in Stockton-on-Tees, UK, a creative outlet to express what life during the pandemic had been like for them. Castlegate and Wellington Square asked local children to share their experiences in writing and note what they’d like other youths of the future to know about that period. From more than 600 stories, poems, and pictures submitted, the mall teams selected their favorite ones to include in Stockton Stories, a book whose sales proceeds would benefit the volunteer-led Bookmark literacy charity.

“We were overwhelmed not only by the number of entries we received for the competition but [also] by the high standard of the entries. It made it very difficult to choose just 50 stories to include in the book,” said Castlegar and Wellington Square’s marketing manager, Chantal Taylor.

The properties officially launched the book this past June 4 & 5 at a special event that all featured writers were invited to attend to highlight their contribution and give them a chance to read their stories out loud in the Story Book Corner, as did a few characters from the book who came to life. The contributors also received a prize and a certificate, while attending children got a free craft bag with everything they needed to make their own bookmarks.

According to the malls, more than 100 copies of Stockton Stories were sold at that launch event and further copies found their takers in the weeks that followed, generating much-needed funds for Bookmark—shoppers can visit the malls’ websites to find out more about the title and where to grab copies. The book also earned Taylor a few accolades, including an Unsung Heroes nod at the Knight Frank Promise Awards, and both properties earned Customer Experience and Employee Excellence awards that same evening. 

“The Teeside community is so important to us and is at the heart of all the campaigns we run at Castlegate and Wellington Square,” Taylor said. 

“We are all very excited for more community initiatives in 2022.”

(Photo credit: Dave Charnley Photography.)

Ralph Lauren Escapes to Roblox This Winter

Games, social shopping, and limited-edition merch are among Ralph Lauren’s offers in The Winter Escape, its metaverse experience on Roblox. The American designer label created the destination where fashionable VR enthusiasts can play a series of activities, such as customizing hot chocolate at Ralph’s Coffee Truck, trying on sport-inspired pieces at The Polo Shops, or voting on new daily rewards with Cheer.

Some 1,283 active users have already made more than 3 million visits there since its launch on September 30. They got exclusive access to drops like new free accessories available each week through the Treasure Hunt, and shopped limited accessories this past December 17 (9-10 am & 6-7 pm) and 18 (noon to 2 pm). Another loyalty-generating strategy: The chance to earn badges (e.g., a Polo alpine jacket or sport beanie).

MOA Ushers In a New Leasing Era

It’s taken a while for shopping center operators to realize that video games were more than the fleeting obsession of young males eager to put in their 10,000 hours to up their scores in titles with cult-like following. The sector has gone mainstream, fueled by the immense popularity of market leaders such as Fortnite and a growing fascination for esports, or organized gaming competitions among pro players and teams that are hosted on digital video streaming platforms like Twitch and YouTube Gaming as well as major networks like ESPN. Soon, Mall of America (Bloomington, USA) will be able to claim a slice of that sector’s pie. It recently announced a partnership with Wisdom Gaming to bring to its property an 1,800sq.ft. broadcast studio with seating for a live audience, a retail shop, and a lounge with F&B options, a marked addition to its tenant mix.

“Tapping into the esports landscape has been something we’ve had on our radar for a long time. However, we wanted to ensure that we were approaching this audience in a holistic way,” said Jill Renslow, EVP of business development, for Mall of America. 

“We are thrilled to partner with Wisdom Gaming, leveraging their expertise in the space to establish Mall of America as the premiere esports destination hub for guests and global esports fans alike.”

Besides welcoming fans, the new split-level space to open early this year on the mall’s fourth level will also serve as a home base for esports teams operated by Wisdom Gaming’s Torrent arm and Minnesota Varsity League, which supports high-school esports. And the latter aren’t the only proverbial players in town. Gwoop, also out of Minnesota, is working with approximately 1,000 school programs across 40 American states and raised US$1.85 million in seed funding this past November to help further develop its esports training platform. 

With Millennials, Gen Zers, and Alphas now grabbing more of retail marketers’ attention, the Mall of America/Wisdom Gaming partnership is reflective of clear market trends rather than a leap of faith into a cool techno niche. Insider Intelligence1 had projected the esports ecosystem to surpass US$1 billion for the first time in 2021, while Newzoo figures it will hit US$1.8 billion this year. The revenue sources behind the growth range from media rights and live-event ticket sales to merchandise sales and in-game purchases. While the Asia-Pacific region remains the top market (approx. 57%), North America and Europe follow, with Latin America currently recognized as the fastest-rising market. As for the future of esports, it will likely be powered by mobile—that segment of gaming accounts for 43% of the market. Not surprisingly, China is said to already have a thriving mobile esports scene.

Mirroring the gaming industry as a whole, esports are gaining momentum on the mall floor, with several shopping centers now adding them to their special event rosters, tenant mix, and amenities to enrich the visitor experience and generate incremental income. As Mall of America noted, the Wisdom Gaming facilities at its property will give brand and media partners a platform to connect with esports communities through component naming rights, advertising, and sponsorships, creating new revenue streams for the mall.


(1). “Exports Ecosystem in 2022: Key industry companies, viewership growth trends, and market revenue stats.” (January 3, 2022)