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SREG and S&P Global Market Intelligence seeing mall traffic quickly return to pre-pandemic level

Thursday, Sep 3, 2020

Since reopening from the shutdown in May, traffic at malls across the country has been better-than-expected. Based on an analysis from S&P Global Market Intelligence, mall traffic is quickly approaching pre-pandemic levels.

According to Placer.ai’s tracker, foot traffic from May to early June showed vast improvement. The increase in retail sales for the past three months also provides evidence that shoppers are returning to malls and making purchases.

Consumer behavior amid the pandemic remains uncertain, however pent-up demand brought many shoppers to stores once they reopened. And, across our portfolio at SREG we have seen a retail landscape that has exceeded our expectations, in both sales and traffic.

As we head for the holidays, our optimism remains high. Although there’s plenty of wild cards during these unprecedented times, levels of store shopping should remain steady.

Bill Hamilton, Director of Property Management at SREG, has shared what he has noticed across our portfolio when it comes to traffic and transactions post-shutdown.

 

“We got reports from the week of and day of (reopening) with really strong comps. That continued for several weeks. When it came time to review sales reports, there were tenants that were 100% over from the prior year.”

Reopening was a strong period for the malls and was largely driven by pent-up consumer demand. With consumers being stuck inside for months at a time, there was a new desire to get out and shop at our centers once they opened back up. This was an evident factor that brought in successful sales reports.

“There’s a couple things going on with traffic – nationally, mall operators have reduced opening hours and we are seeing traffic that’s more condensed. It’s been in our favor that we are getting similar traffic in a shorter period.”

“The average spend per ticket per transaction at the retailers is much higher. The consumer is on a mission, they are going to spend. And that’s been across all categories, every retailer has seen higher dollar per transaction.”

Shoppers are entering our centers on a mission to buy. They know what they’re looking for and they’re ready to spend money. The significant increase in transaction dollar amounts has positively impacted each of our tenants and brought in better-than-expected numbers all around.

“In the last few years, Black Friday and into Christmas it’s been more the younger consumers who have been more apt to spend. They were out initially post-COVID, and if they’re unphased, it’s a good sign for the overall mall for the holidays if that consumer is willing to venture out to the mall and spend and interact. It’s a positive trend that will be in our back pocket.”

Bill’s projection focuses on the buying power of Gen Z, which makes up 40% of today’s consumers, and is the generation who values human connection and shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. With 67% of Gen Z shopping in physical stores most of the time, there’s no denying that will continue throughout the holidays this year. Across the board and during COVID, we’ve noticed the younger generation coming out to shop and we expect that trend to continue in the coming months.

With mall traffic steadily increasing and transaction dollar amounts up across the board, numerous retailers in our portfolio are impressed with their performance so far. Here’s a few we’ve highlighted:

  • Aeropostale – “Doing very well.”
  • Bath & Body Works – “Amazed at the amount of people buying!”
  • Claire’s – “Average sale is way higher than pre-COVID”
  • Boscov’s – “Sales were steady, and so was traffic”
  • JCPenney – “Reported an increase in sales and foot traffic since the mall’s reopening.”
  • American Eagle & Shoe Dept. – “Average ticket is up about 20% at both stores”

Overall, sales numbers have been very comparable to last year’s numbers, even with shortened hours. Mall traffic is quickly approaching its pre-pandemic levels as well. It’s safe to say both factors are on the right track to a healthy recovery post-COVID.

Source: Shopping Center Foot Traffic – Retail Dive

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