Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Placer.ai Mall Index - A Wild Start to 2022

by 
Ethan Chernofsky
 on 
April 5, 2022
Placer.ai Mall Index - A Wild Start to 2022

About the Mall Index: The Index analyzes data from more than 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 anonymized location information from a panel of 30 million devices and processes the data using industry-leading AI and machine learning capabilities to make estimations about overall visits to specific locations. 

While the early months of the pandemic were defined by retail restrictions for top performing malls and retail centers, 2021 and early 2022 need to be understood with the wider context of volatility engulfing the space. Visits saw a strong return in the summer, before the Delta variant cut off the growth. Then October saw a boost before November and December were affected by supply chain challenges, inflation and the onset of Omicron.

January was up next, getting hit by Omicron’s true peak before the sector started recovering only to have this recovery offset - at least initially - by rising gas prices. So to unpack the progress, we dove into our Mall Index.

Omicron’s Impact and March’s Recovery

While it is overly simplistic to look only at month-over-month metrics, they do provide an important view at the wider trend impacting visits. January’s steep decline from December was driven by a combination of Omicron and the natural ebb and flow of retail seasonality following the holiday season. While February did see a comeback, the lack of days in the month saw that recovery muted before malls enjoyed a stronger performance in March. Top performing indoor malls saw a 16.8% MoM jump from February to March, while open-air lifestyle centers and outlet centers saw improvements of 18.4% and 26.1% respectively.

Comparing to Previous Years

Yet, to properly account for seasonality, context from previous years is necessary. Looking at visits compared to the year prior shows a significant uptick in the first months of 2022 – though lower than the heights hit in late 2021. Critically, much of the strength centers around the comparison to a COVID-affected Q1. In this case, the lessening visit growth indicates the challenges faced including continued COVID, continued inflation, and rising gas prices among other issues. However, the progress is still important, especially considering just how significant the impact of Omicron was in January and the wave of obstacles faced in March. March especially faced a fairer comparison than we’ve seen from the year-over-year lens since the pandemic began. 

But the most accurate metric for contextualizing the recovery in early 2022 comes from a year-over-three-year comparison. In this view, January saw an expected decline prior to a February recovery that led into another dip in March. Visits in March were down 9.5% for indoor malls, 9.7% for open-air lifestyle centers and 15.4% for outlet centers. 

As discussed above, much of this March slide centers around the powerful combination of rising gas prices alongside the other challenges that brick and mortar retail has been coping with since late 2021. And the rise in gas prices is especially significant for malls of all types because it fundamentally disrupts the decision-making process.  If the destination is too far - as many regional powerhouse centers are for at least part of their core audience - then visits can be impacted.

Weekly Visits View - Malls Again Showing Resilience

However, in the latest testament to the seemingly endless resilience of top tier malls, weekly visits compared to 2019 show yet another recovery. While rising gas prices clearly played a role in sending visits plunging in early March, by the weeks beginning March 14th and 21st, the situation had already stabilized. In fact, the week beginning March 14th actually saw visits up 0.5% for indoor malls compared to the equivalent week in 2019. That same week, visits to open-air lifestyle centers and outlet malls were down just 1.8% and 2.4% respectively.

The return to pre-pandemic levels shows that top tier centers continue to have a pull that brings in core audiences for a wider experience centered around their powerful combination of retail, dining and entertainment. The latest rebound shows that these formats have a built in a draw that continues to create excitement and interest. This is only augmented by shifts taking place within malls to create more urgency and differentiation from a tenant mix perspective.

Should the wider COVID recovery continue and the impact of some of retail’s newer challenges begin to dissipate, the next quarter could see a sharp rise in mall traffic and engagement.

Will the Mall recovery continue? 

Visit Placer.ai to find out.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In
Placer.ai’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index
Placer.ai Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
Announcing Placer.ai’s COVID RECOVERY DASHBOARD
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start
Placer.ai Office Index: October 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits
Placer.ai Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing Placer.ai’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays
Placer.ai Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot
Placer.ai Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap
Placer.ai Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall  
Placer.ai Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap 
Placer.ai Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop