Chariot of Fire

Nearly 20 years after the debut of the Forum Shops at Caesars, the retail powerhouse is still reinventing itself

Photo by Anthony MairThe Forum Shops at Caesars Palace

When the Forum Shops at Caesars recently announced it was going to open the largest H&M in North America, debuting this fall, the hearts of fashionistas far and wide skipped a beat. But remarkably this is just another feat in a long line of successes for the retail trendsetter, which is the prime location choice for clothing stores, restaurants and other specialty boutiques looking at taking a bite out of the Las Vegas pie.

And since it first opened its doors in 1992, Maureen Crampton, director of mall marketing and business development, has been there to see the accolades and the shoppers roll in. “Overall, people shop differently here, and you have to shift your business plan to accommodate or you will lose market share and position,” she says. “The Forum Shops is a must-see.”

Crampton, along with her team, have dedicated themselves to selling both the steak and the sizzle. At its debut, the Forum Shops offered locals and tourists a new kind of retail experience. It led them out of the casino (a concept that was previously unheard of) and into a place that was almost as magical. Boasting a one-of-a-kind ceiling that changed from day to night and the opportunity to spend some coin—or at least window-shop—at the world’s finest boutiques, the venue was an instant success due to its bold aesthetics. Much like the resorts which populate the Strip, its architecture was as enticing as its merchandise. And with that kind of spectacle comes foot traffic, open wallets and repeat customers.

By the Numbers

  • The Forum Shops, which has undergone two expansions, consists of 636,000 square feet.
  • Its largest restaurant, Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab, measures 11,440 square feet.
  • Its largest retail space will soon be the three-story, 60,000-square-foot H&M.
  • It has been named one of the most successful high-end shopping malls in the United States
    and the highest grossing mall in America, with higher sales per square foot than Rodeo Drive
    in Beverly Hills, Calif.

“We have created a varied retail mix that appeals to everyone,” Crampton says. “The customer feels very comfortable here since we have a wide range of shops like Gap, Banana Republic and Victoria Secret. Yet, we also have the shops you won’t find elsewhere, like La Martina and Shanghai Tang.

“H&M is a big win for us because they want to accommodate a range of demographics. It’s a place where you can buy key pieces for your wardrobe while also updating your teenage daughter’s wardrobe.”

In keeping up with its customers and in an effort to continue its long history of success, the Forum Shops management team has taken a hard look at the way the recession has affected consumer buying habits and made adjustments to keep its tenants vibrant.

“We researched how to build our customer base differently and started targeting shoppers from places like China and the U.K.,” Crampton says. “But we also didn’t neglect our domestic clientele and, of course, the influx of tourists from California. Targeted direct marketing campaigns have helped us stay savvy and competitive, and thereby our stores reap the benefits.”

People are still spending, she says, but more wisely. “Everyone is looking for a great deal, and as a result we are going to show a different item and a different accessory in our marketing,” she says, noting that over the past year she has personally noticed an uptick in consumer confidence.

Beyond the savvy marketing, great retailers and some wild visual stimulation, there is one factor that is innate when it comes to shopping in Las Vegas, a formula that can’t be duplicated elsewhere.

“It’s easy to justify spending money in Las Vegas,” Crampton says. “When you get on that plane and land in this city there is an unmatched excitement and element of surprise, and you just have to take something home that is a testament to the trip.”