“The end of malls is not as near as some may think,” said the Placer.ai white paper. “The combination of cold weather, shoppers returning to their pre-COVID routines, and Americans looking for a comfortable space to congregate with their friends and family after a long period of isolation may drive indoor mall visits even further up.”
Long popular malls that underwent renovations in the past three years—adding such new traffic-builders such as apartments, offices, and medical centers—have already begun to surpass 2019 numbers. Scottsdale Fashion Square in Arizona moved ahead of its headcounts of two years ago in April and has continued the trend since. Also moving ahead in July were Westfield Garden State Plaza and Galleria Dallas.
Placer.ai has discovered, too, that shoppers are spending more time in malls than they did during the pandemic, when shopping turned into fast-paced grab-and-go operations. But with vaccination rates getting higher and newly reported cases dropping lower, consumers began reverting to previous shopping behavior. In June 2020, the median length of stay for indoor malls was 53 minutes. By July 2021, it had climbed to 69 minutes.
Another key measure that has returned to pre-pandemic levels is True Trade Area (TTA). People did their best to stay close to home during the pandemic, causing the average TTA of the 100 malls studied by Placer.ai to drop from 160 square miles to 146. In June 2021, the average TTA returned to 159 square miles.
Placer.ai analysts maintain that the more these well-located and newly renovated malls refine their shopper experiences, the greater their chances will be to become as popular—if not more popular—than they were before.
“[Retail] brands that place a greater emphasis on owning creating unique and authentic experiences that drive longer-term omnichannel value…will benefit from investing in in-mall locations,” the white paper held. “Regional hubs also create tremendous reach and provide logistical value for returns and last-mile distribution.”