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LOS ANGELES-The Westfield Group has added a concierge and an array of other services at its Westfield Shoppingtowns in an effort to ease the burdens of holiday shopping as Los Angeles-based Westfield and other retail center operators devise a host of services and promotions designed to draw customers to their shopping venues.

The Shopping Concierge program is “designed to make shopping more convenient and enjoyable for customers,” according to Westfield, which is also offering holiday services including free gift boxes, package carry-out, parking for expectant mothers, valet parking, family lounges and play towns for children. The concierge program is the cornerstone of the holiday services, the company says, and provides one-on-one customer attention with a team of “retail experts.” The concierges are available to identify special sales, locate a particular item, give directions and assist with reservations or requests. The family lounges feature what the company describes as “a comfortable living room-like atmosphere” with leather chairs, a television with a DVD player, a large carpeted area where children can play, a family sized restroom with private nursing stations, diaper changing areas, bottle warmers and microwaves. The play towns, designed for children ages five and younger, feature a layout populated with characters like Westfield’s Westie the Kangaroo mascot, games, puzzles and a fun house.

The new services from Westfield, which operates 66 Westfield Shoppingtowns in the U.S., indicate the extra effort that center operators have been making in recent years to attract customers during the holiday season. Rick Caruso’s The Grove outdoor center near the historic Farmers Market in L.A. staged its annual Christmas tree lighting celebration the Sunday before Thanksgiving, with a concert featuring Dionne Warwick, Bebe Winans, California Philharmonic and other entertainment. The Grove event featured a 110-foot tree, taller than its Rockefeller Center counterpart, Grove management points out, along with “snowfall” at The Grove’s Town Square immediately after the tree lighting and twice each night until New Year’s Day.

At the Beverly Center in Beverly Hills, a property owned and managed by Michigan-based Taubman Centers, management kicked off the holiday season on the day after Thanksgiving with a rooftop Energy Lounge atop the eight-story building that houses the shopping venue. The rooftop lounge, with views of the Hollywood sign and downtown L.A., featured free muffins and fruit, Red Bull energy drink, coffee and tea and a live disc jockey. The lounge was part of a national promotion by Taubman in partnership with Revolution Studios and Columbia Pictures to reward the first 50 shoppers at the lounge with movie passes and other prizes tied in with Revolution Studios’ “Christmas with the Kranks.”

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