A resurgence in mall traffic and store openings has proved brick-and-mortar’s ability to bounce back better than ever. More stores opened in 2022 than closed and mall sales grew over 11% in 2022 to nearly $819 billion, according to Coresight Research. At the end of 2022, mall occupancy was at 95.1%, up from about 92% in 2020.
“Anything over 92% is a full mall, because you want to leave flex space. You need constant turn, in a good way, in a mall because you need new tenants,” said Deborah Weinswig, Coresight Research founder and CEO.
Mall traffic is up as well, with an increase of 12% on average in 2022 over pre-pandemic 2019 levels, while traffic was up 10% at non-top-tier malls. Traffic reported at indoor malls has continued to rise in August, with more than 40% of adults reporting they visited a mall within the past two weeks, up from 35% at the beginning of June and 30% in the beginning of April.
“The death of the mall is wildly exaggerated. The other side of that is the opportunity is more significant,” Weinswig said.
Malls have consistently adapted to consumer’s ever-changing needs and desires to stay ahead of the curve. Now, consumers crave the experience a mall can bring – from food and entertainment to shopping and events. It is up to mall retailers to adapt to this model and create a space that ignites human connection in all sorts of ways. Consumers will always value in-store experiences for its flexibility and ability to provide multiple purposes.
Many malls in the US are looking at the retail boom in China for inspiration. Chinese malls have created a mixed-use destination that encourages shoppers to come and stick around. Creating a a space for community fosters a sense of purpose among shoppers.
“Retail in China is consumer-focused and in the U.S., it was retail-focused. I think what happened during the pandemic is (U.S. malls and retailers) became consumer-focused,” Weinswig said.