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07/08/2021

Mall Traffic Within Striking Distance of Pre-Pandemic Levels

Shoppers are feeling more confident and hitting America’s malls once again.
mall

That’s according to the latest mall index from Placer.ai, which found malls saw a boost in foot traffic in June. Visits to indoor malls were down 8.1% in June from the same period two years ago. While still not back to pre-pandemic levels, that reveals an improvement when visits were down 8.3% in May.

Similarly, for outdoor malls, visits were down 5.6% in June compared to 2019. However, this is actually much higher than May levels, when the gap was just 0.7%, according to Placer.ai. Despite this drop, June was the second strongest month for outdoor malls in 2021 so far, “and the drop relative to May could be due to May’s Memorial Day sales drawing a surge of shoppers to outdoor shopping centers as many indoor malls were still fully or partially closed,” the index noted.

Overall, the second quarter of 2021 showed significant improvement in mall visits, with “consistent progress,” the index found. 

“This consistent progress--even without a major shopping holiday--shows the true strength of the rebound for this critical retail format,” the report read. “And shoppers continue to show their desire to visit these retail destinations, another sign of the powerful resiliency of consumer demand for the mall format.”

While the overall mall sector has been showing improvements as states reopen and more consumers return to stores as the national COVID-19 vaccination program continues to roll out, the back-to-school season is expected to give it a further boost. However, the 2019 back-to-school season was particularly strong, meaning it may be even more challenging for 2021 to reach those previous levels of visits. 

“If the visit gap continues to shrink, it will be an exceptionally strong sign for the retail sector,” the report stated. “However, even if the gap increases, it may have more to do with the heights hit in 2019 than the pace of recovery in 2021.”

The report comes after the National Retail Federation recently upped its retail sales forecast for the rest of 2021, with the expectation that retail sales will top $4.44 trillion by the end of the year. The association also recently remarked that the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has given way to an “unprecedented recovery,” marked by a strong desire to shop in store and online by consumers. 

Additionally, malls have been seeing a quick recovery on a month-over-month basis. Since February, malls have reported rebounding visits, with a 14.4% month-over-month increase for indoor malls, and a 12.8% increase at outdoor malls.

“This shows the strong momentum working in the favor of both retail formats, and the powerful draw they continue to possess,” Placer.ai reported.