Even before the pandemic, significant shifts in consumer behavior had many consumers seeking out experiences over material possessions. And after two years of COVID, customers are more excited than ever to try new activities.
In this blog we take a look at foot traffic trends to leading entertainment destinations to learn about current consumer attitudes towards these types of experiences. We also dive into visits to one massive experiential hub – the American Dream Mall in New Jersey – to see how adding indoor entertainment to existing retail venues can help boost foot traffic.
Year-Over-Year Visits Continue to Increase
After two long pandemic years, indoor trampoline parks are on the rise once again. Several brands, including Altitude Trampoline Park and Urban Air, saw significant fleet expansions over the last decade. Sky Zone has also been expanding rapidly since its US debut in 2004 and now boasts nearly 150 locations across the country – with additional expansion plans in the works. According to Mike Revak, SVP of Franchise and Park Operations at CircusTrix (the parent company that owns Sky Zone), "even before the pandemic, families were spending more on experiences and now, the active entertainment industry is in a stage of explosive growth."
Not surprisingly, trampoline parks – like most indoor activities – saw their impressive growth grinding to a halt during the pandemic. But it seems like trampoline parks, with their broad appeal to both children and adults alike, have rallied – showing impressive year-over-year (YoY) visits across the board. April 2022 saw visits to all trampoline parks analyzed up compared to the previous year, with Sky Zone and Rockin’ Jump seeing a 53.2% and 60.9% increase in monthly visits, respectively.
Visits Per Venue Bouncing Up
Many of the trampoline park chains analyzed saw rapid expansion in their store fleet over the past few years – likely due to the increased interest. However, store count is not the only marker of a strong brand – visits per venue can be a valuable tool for a chain to better understand customer demand. We took a closer look at the impact of their expansion.
Overall, April saw higher visits per venue than in previous months, as consumers began seeking out new activities for socializing and being active post-pandemic. By April, almost all of the parks we looked at had higher visits per venue than they did three years prior – Urban Air, Rockin’ Jump, and Sky Zone saw 27.6%, 18.8% and 24.6% more visits at their locations compared to 2019 , respectively. Even Altitude Trampoline Park narrowed its visit-per-venue gap impressively – from 27.3% down to just 7.6% down.
The strength of these parks is all the more notable given the recent inflation-induced downturn in leisure spending. But as we move into summer, the impressive foot traffic numbers may signal that consumers are once again ready to spend their time and money on new experiences.
Malls Betting on Experiences
Demand for experiences isn’t only driving foot traffic to entertainment-focused businesses – many retailers are also adding experiential elements to their offline stores. And as many consumers shift to spending more money on experiences – experiential malls are also on the rise, with mall owners adding attractions such as go-karts and indoor climbing walls to attract shoppers.
There may be no better example of an experiential mall than the American Dream Mall in New Jersey, which has doubled down on its experiential offerings. In April 2020, right as the pandemic took hold, the mall announced that it would be dedicating roughly 70% of its indoor space to new entertainment activities, up from the previously allocated 55%.
Visits from the past year indicate that American Dream’s bet on experiential may be starting to pay off. Using May 2021 visits as a baseline, we looked at the change in monthly visits for American Dream alongside the Placer.ai Indoor Mall Index, and found that American Dream has been consistently over-performing the Indoor Mall Index.
In April 2022, visits to American Dream were 33.3% higher than they were in May 2021, compared to only a 2.3% increase for indoor malls. While this growth is heavily related to its lower starting point compared to top tier malls, the increase speaks to the location’s potential as it continues to roll out new components and offerings. Consumers are flocking to the mall, not only for their wide array of shops and food options, but also for its indoor entertainment options, featuring a climbing wall, hyper-realistic virtual reality cliff-diving, and recently reopened ski slope.
Demand for indoor experiences is likely to ramp up as the weather heats up and consumers look for exciting, air-conditioned places to have fun and socialize. Experiential shopping malls, trampoline parks, and other indoor entertainment venues may well reap the benefits.
For more data-driven insights, visit placer.ai.