In what might signal a trend toward longer weekend hours at malls in Southern California, management of the chichi Beverly Center in West Los Angeles has decreed that the mall will stay open an additional three hours on Saturday evenings, beginning this weekend.
And some other Southland shopping centers are watching to see the results of keeping a big center open till 9 p.m. on Saturdays.
"We're just analyzing what they are doing," said Michael F. Strle, general manager of Century City Shopping Center. "They're stepping forward. If we see the need to extend our hours, we would probably respond."
This time around, though, Southern California seems to be following a precedent rather than establishing one. Many shopping centers in the East and Midwest and even in Northern California have extended their Saturday hours in response to changing shopping patterns and the presence of theater complexes that draw late-night customers with hefty incomes.
"I've seen customers' noses pressed against the glass on Saturday nights," Lawrence R. Beermann, general manager of the 173-store Beverly Center, said in an interview Thursday.
'Good Business Sense'
This past summer, he noted, centers and department stores in Northern California started staying open on Saturday nights until 9 p.m., having closed previously at 6.
"As we looked at it, couple that with the fact that the Beverly Center has throngs of people here on Saturday night for dining and going to the movies, and shopping in the Broadway and Bullock's (the mall's anchor stores, which already stay open till 9 p.m.), and it all added up to a decision that made a lot of business sense."
The Beverly Center is owned by La Cienega Associates and managed by the Taubman Co., which in addition to charging stores rent also get a percentage of some of the stores' sales.
Sonny Sturn, a San Diego marketing specialist, figures it's about time a Southern California center took the plunge into longer Saturday hours to accommodate shoppers. "There's no more housewife at home with a stroller who can spend six hours shopping," he said.
Stays Open Later
Early in August, the Westside Pavilion, an upscale mall in Westwood, extended its Saturday evening hours, but only by one hour, to 7 p.m.
Westside Pavilion, with 154 tenants, also keeps longer weekday hours than most other Southland malls, remaining open until 9:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays rather than 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, other area malls are also inclined to watch and see what the effect is of longer Saturday hours. Maura K. Eggan, a spokeswoman for South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, said the 280-store mall has no plans to extend its hours except during the holiday season.
At the Beverly Center, about the only ones who don't seem happy with this turn of events are small-store merchants, who feel the change has been forced on them. Several said they don't believe that the extended hours will bring enough additional business to cover costs of hiring part-time help to keep the stores open.
"We small-store owners are in a little bit different situation from (stores such as) the Gap and the Limited that have multiple employees," said Deborah Pearlman, owner of Shooze II, who signed a petition protesting the change.
Stores are bound by their contracts to abide by the hours set by management, but, said Pearlman, "I would be surprised if everyone were open," she said. "The natives are restless."