Malls Hit Pre-Pandemic Foot Traffic Levels

August 18, 2021

Malls “have essentially fully recovered” to post-pandemic levels, according to a new analysis of the top performing indoor and outdoor shopping centers across the US.

Outdoor shopping centers posted a 2.1% increase in monthly visits in July as compared to the same period in 2019, while indoor malls narrowed that gap to -0.1%. And month over month visits are also either increasing or remaining steady: foot traffic in outdoor malls grew 20.8% in July from June, while visits to indoor malls went up 10.6%.

“It turns out that malls are much more resilient than many expected, and shoppers’ forced separation from these emblems of American retail seems to have rekindled an old flame,” Placer.ai’s Shira Petrack says in a report breaking down the data. “Visit recovery patterns also emphasize that the ‘one-size-fits-all’ narrative surrounding malls is fundamentally flawed. Top performing centers are regional retail landmarks, and even if there are cases of ‘over-malled’ landscapes, the leaders are still well positioned for long-term success.”

Some standout malls include the Westfield Garden State Plaza in New Jersey, the Galleria in Texas, and the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall in Arizona, which recorded increases over 2019 numbers of 3.0%, 6.9%, and 15.9%, respectively. July was a turning point for other struggling malls, according to Placer.ai, and the next few months will be determinative of whether those centers can continue to attract shoppers in greater droves.

Malls’ true trade areas—a measurement of how far shoppers are willing to travel to visit a certain location—are also inching toward pre-pandemic dimensions.

“As customers are willing to drive further if it means visiting a ‘better’ shopping centers, malls will need to step up their offerings if they wish to stay in the game and continue to attract customers who are increasing expecting their malls to provide not just shopping, but also a diverse array of dining options, entertainment choices, and services,” according to Petrack.

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