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Malls Turn to Candy, Rock Climbing to Lure Disappearing Shoppers

  • Entertainment called key to compete with online shopping
  • Executives are gathered in Las Vegas for retail conference

Lou Conforti, chief executive officer of shopping-mall landlord Washington Prime Group Inc., is betting on jelly beans.

Visitors to the company’s booth at the International Council of Shopping Centers’ annual convention in Las Vegas are greeted with a colorful self-serve display of candy, a plug for a project the Columbus, Ohio-based company is rolling out in about five of its 110 properties. Shelby’s Sugar Shop, Conforti’s own creation, will deliver an assortment of treats to shoppers via tricycle, based on heat maps of visitor traffic.