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Placer.ai Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring

by 
Maytal Cohen
 on 
May 16, 2024
Placer.ai Mall Index: April 2024 Recap – Retail Resilience Heading into Spring

About the Mall Index: The Index analyzes data from 100 top-tier indoor malls, 100 open-air shopping centers (not including outlet malls) and 100 outlet malls across the country, in both urban and suburban areas. Placer.ai uses de-identified location information from a panel of tens of millions of devices and processes the data using industry-leading AI and machine learning capabilities to make estimations about overall visits to specific locations. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Year-over-year (YoY) visits to malls slowed in April 2024, after two consecutive months of growth. 
  • But a closer examination of weekly visit trends shows that this monthly drop was primarily driven by an Easter holiday calendar discrepancy. With the exception of the week of April 8th, weekly YoY mall visit growth remained strong throughout the analyzed period.
  • Indoor Malls, Open-Air Shopping Centers, and Outlet Malls all saw significant visit peaks on the Monday after Easter – outperforming last year’s post-holiday foot traffic spike. 

April Foot Traffic Trends: A Mall Visit Slowdown 

In April 2024, YoY mall visits slowed following two months of positive visit growth. For Indoor Malls, the decline was marginal – and Open-Air Shopping Centers saw visits remain on par with last year’s levels. But Outlet Malls saw a significant drop of 6.5% in visits. 

Although at first glance this slowdown may suggest a resurgence of the retail challenges that plagued much of 2022 and 2023, a deeper dive into weekly visit trends paints a much rosier picture.

April Weekly Visits Show: Mall Foot Traffic Remains Strong

Indoor Malls and Open-Air Shopping Centers experienced robust YoY visit increases every week of April 2024 and into May, with the sole exception of the week of April 8th. This isolated drop appears to be due to a calendar discrepancy: In 2023, Easter fell on April 9th, while in 2024, the holiday fell on March 31st. So the week of April 8th, 2024 is being compared to the week immediately after the holiday (including Easter Monday) when malls likely experienced heightened activity due to gift returns and pent-up demand following holiday store closures. Though Easter Monday isn’t an official holiday in the U.S., many people likely take the day off – giving them more time to hit the stores.

Outlet Malls, which saw a steeper decline during the week of April 8th, appear to have been particularly impacted by the Easter calendar difference – shoppers may be especially likely to make the trek to an outlet mall on a holiday weekend, or on Easter Monday. But Outlet Malls also saw their positive momentum quickly recover. 

The continued rise in weekly YoY mall visits signals continued retail strength into the spring of 2024.

Post-Easter Monday Visits Peak

Holiday retail foot traffic is typically characterized by two main spikes: a pre-holiday visit spike evident in the days preceding the holiday, and a post-holiday uptick driven largely by gift returns and pent-up demand after stores reopen. The Monday after Easter follows this pattern – and comparing this year’s post-Easter visit spike to the one observed in 2023 provides further evidence of the category’s resilience.

On Monday, April 1st, 2024 – the day after Easter – Indoor Malls, Open-Air Shopping Centers, and Outlet Malls all drew significantly more visits than on an average Monday. And this year’s post-Easter visit spikes – ranging from 22.5% to 27.8% – were even more impressive than last year’s. Outlet Malls, which may be more likely to draw visitors on the day after Easter, saw the biggest post-Easter visit spikes.

All three mall types also saw more absolute visits this year on the day after Easter than they did in 2023 – with April 1st, 2024 foot traffic to Indoor Malls, Open-Air Shopping Centers, and Outlet Malls up 8.7%, 12.3%, and 6.7%, respectively, compared to April 10th, 2023.  

Looking Ahead

Weekly YoY visit data and post-Easter foot traffic trends show that malls remain on an upward trajectory. As inflation continues to ease, malls may regain some leverage and can potentially attract crowds more readily than they did in 2023.

For more data-driven retail insights, visit our blog at placer.ai

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