About the Mall Index: The Index analyzes data from 100 top-tier indoor malls, 100 open-air lifestyle 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 million devices and processes the data using industry-leading AI and machine learning capabilities to make estimations about overall visits to specific locations.
YoY Visit Growth Stalls Slightly, but Remains Ahead of Early 2023
Following the significant improvement in year-over-year (YoY) foot traffic numbers in June 2023, visit growth for indoor malls, open-air lifestyle centers, and outlet malls slowed slightly. But the dip was not pronounced, with July 2023 visits to Open-Air Lifestyle Centers still up relative to July 2022. Indoor Malls and Outlet Malls visits also remained close to 2022 levels with YoY visit gaps of just 2.8% and 3.3%, respectively – strong results considering lingering economic challenges.
And although the three mall formats’ relative July performance was not as strong as that of June 2023, YoY visit numbers still remained above April and May 2023 levels. The relatively positive July numbers suggest that shopping centers may be among the many retail segments on track to beat their H1 2023 performance in the second half of the year.
Back to School Drives Visits
Diving into the month-over-month data gives further reason for optimism. All three mall formats saw their July 2023 visits increase relative to June 2023 levels, marking the third month of MoM growth in a row and highlighting the potential of Back to School for driving visits to the segment. Foot traffic to outlet malls increased the most relative to the previous month, perhaps driven by families and college students looking for bargains before the upcoming school year. In contrast, 2022 MoM visits remained more or less constant in May and June before spiking dramatically in July, indicating that this year’s Back-to-School season is a little more spread out than last year’s, which may speak to the retail obstacles faced earlier in the year.
Weekly Mall Traffic Breakdown in July
Looking at the week-over-week (WoW) visits to the three mall formats sheds more light onto the factors driving July 2023 mall foot traffic. Outlet malls saw a significant jump in WoW visits during the week of July 3rd, likely driven by July 4th promotional events. This relatively large jump – especially in comparison to the other mall formats’ foot traffic patterns – is consistent with H1 2023 data showing outlet malls tend to be the biggest beneficiaries of sales days and promotional events.
WoW visits to outlet malls then fell during the week of July 10th – likely due to comparisons to the strong July 3rd week – but traffic to outlet malls increased again during the last two full weeks of the month. Indoor Malls also experienced WoW visits throughout the month, which could indicate that Back-to-School season is just getting started – and that August may well bring an even larger visit boost.
Different Mall Formats Attract Different Audiences
Although outlet malls’ came out ahead in terms of WoW and MoM visits in July 2023, Open-Air Lifestyle Centers continued to outperform their counterparts on a YoY basis. Open-Air Lifestyle Centers also draw visitors from census blocks with relatively high median HHI, which is likely contributing to the format’s success, as higher-income shoppers were likely less impacted by the economic headwinds.
Meanwhile, Outlet Malls had the lowest median HHI in their trade areas – $75.6K compared to $81.5K and $87.8K for Indoor Malls and Open-Air Lifestyle Centers, respectively – which may explain why Outlet Malls see the largest visit spikes during sales events.
July 2023 data indicates that the mall recovery of the past couple of months is remaining steady – and with another month left for Back-to-School shopping and consumer sentiment on the rise, mall traffic may well get an even larger boost in August.
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