Retail layout strategy – a space to park your husband?

26th January 2017
Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

Photo by Harry Cunningham on Unsplash

We like to think we’ve got our finger on the pulse when it comes to store planning and retail layout strategy here at Barber, but this new idea from China has got us wondering if we should be heading back to the drawing board. According to the Pop Up City, The Vanke Mall in China has just unveiled it’s own ‘Husband Nursery.’ This novel idea consists of an exclusive place for women to park their husbands so that they can both have a more fulfilling time whilst shopping in the mall. What we would like to know is does it work – and could it catch on here?

We’ve all seen those uncomfortable men shifting from foot to foot outside New Look, loaded with carrier bags, glancing at their watch and avoiding eye contact with each other. Some stores provide a chair or two outside the ladies changing room where husbands and partners seek refuge. They stare half-heartedly at their smartphones – whilst their better halves emerge sporadically, parading a series of increasingly unsuitable outfits – like Julia Roberts in the makeover scene from Pretty Woman.

So perhaps some might welcome this new idea from the East – where the recently opened shopping complex, in Qibao has taken this concept one step further with a room especially for ‘husbands that don’t like shopping.’ Located on the third floor of the Vanke Mall, the ‘Husband Nursery’ contains TV sets, men’s interest magazines and relaxing massage chairs. The space features a minimal design,aimed at transporting each visitor to their own quiet place, far from the madding crowds of the mall.

As we’ve reported many times on the blog, one of the keys to the survival of traditional shopping centres in recent years is the notion of redeveloping them into ‘destinations’ for ‘experiences’ rather than just places to shop. So people can eat there or pursue leisure activities including sports or going to the cinema – and shopping is just part of the equation. By putting in the extra effort to entice and include visitors, could the ‘Husband Nursery’ business model work over here? We can see a few drawbacks to the plan – for example if hubby is relaxing in the man zone, their wife could be going crazy with the credit cards. Plus by calling it a ‘nursery’ some men might object to being equated with children and simplistic behaviour. Perhaps ‘man parking’ would be a better description for this facility. It is certainly in the mall’s interest to keep both parties happy and enjoying themselves for as long as possible. What do you think – could it work here? We’ll have to check in and see if it catches on – and don’t forget that if it does – you heard it here first!

Picture credit: The Pop Up City