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An analysis of the mall restaurant preferences of a national sample of 1,737 U.S. residents sheds light on how to configure mall food service and demonstrates how local malls can determine what their particular market desires. The study tested demographic differences in relation to mall configurations and in relation to the types of food-service concepts that are in highest demand. Using customer choice analysis, this study asked respondents to choose among six mall food-service configurations, including one that had a large food court and one that had no food court at all. The most popular configuration combined a moderate-size food court with several casual and fast-casual restaurants. Least popular was the choice that had only table-service restaurants and no food court. The study also asked respondents to select their favorite mall restaurant concepts, with a particular eye to demographic differences in restaurant preferences. Since this is a national sample, it’s not surprising that familiar national QSR and casual-dining chains topped the list. However, certain demographic groups rated the QSRs as their favorites, while others were more favorable to table-service concepts. Thus, as local and regional mall operators determine which restaurant concepts to offer in their malls, they should consider their customers’ demographics and preferences. With that analysis, malls can set the mix of local and national operators, QSR and table-service concepts, and the configuration of those restaurants in the mall.


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