2021 Mall Pedestrian Traffic Recap and Looking Ahead

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The death of malls has been greatly exaggerated. Over the past 2 years, headlines predicting the decline, if not demise, of shopping malls due to Covid and the associated rise of e-commerce have multiplied. Franchisees and landlords have struggled to manage closures, negotiate rents, retain employees and adapt to massively reduced foot traffic. It was a hot mess with no clear timeline or way forward.

Well, think again. Have you recently driven near a mall and seen the parking lot overflowing with cars? Or have you been inside one, queuing as pent-up demand brings buyers back? If malls could talk, they’d trumpet the news, “We’re baaaack!” In mid-2022, a sigh of relief spread across the country, from businesses and mall owners alike.

Well, that’s all well and good, but let’s take a look at the data collected in a white paper on the health and performance of shopping malls in 2021. Placer.ai’s report, dove deep into the location analysis of the mall space, focusing on the period from January to December 2021.

According to the authors, “This white paper examines a variety of shopping center categories and location analytics datasets to understand how shopping centers and shopping center consumers have changed over the past two years and to identify best practices that will allow shopping center stakeholders and retailers to thrive in the years to come.”

Key points to remember

Filled with detailed data and charts, the report offers six takeaways. Download the full report here.

1) Indoor shopping malls and outdoor shopping malls have largely caught up with shopping malls.

2) Holidays always bring traffic, but the extended season and the rise of Omicron have limited the spikes.

3) Even the hardest hit states are almost fully recovered.

4) Getting creative with mall vacancies can pay off.

5) Numerical data can provide information about physical behavior.

6) Consumer behavior is still changing.

Beyond the datasets presented in the report, here is a high-level summary of the introduction:

“While some thought the pandemic heralded the end of shopping malls, it seems that a year without shopping malls has instead reinvigorated consumer demand. Shopping malls have once again proven their resilience and relevance despite serious headwinds. that stood in their way, such as new Covid variants and supply chain challenges Consumer behavior trends indicate that shopping behavior is finally stabilizing, and foot traffic data shows that visits are rebounding, with some months in 2021 even exceeding 2019 visitation levels.

“And the pandemic has had positive side effects. Widespread store closures have left spaces open and forced many mall operators to step out of their comfort zones to bring in art, pop-up shops and other attractions that connect shoppers to the retail experience the experiential retail they increasingly expect. Some malls have even started operating e-commerce platforms, setting themselves apart from their peers and bringing traditional malls into the 21st century.

“This report delves into the tumultuous year for shopping malls from a location analytics perspective. We looked at indoor shopping malls, shopping malls and Class A outdoor malls to assess national trends foot traffic patterns, analyze the correlation between online searches and shopping center visits, understand the impact of ready-to-use tenants, and assess the current state of consumer behavior in shopping centers.”

Long story short? “They are baaaack!” Do you like data? Learn more in the full report.

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