September’s White Paper explored changes in regional and seasonal visitation patterns across malls. Below is a taste of our findings – read the full report here.
Summer Sun Brings Out The Shoppers
Comparing 2023 monthly visits to a monthly average baseline (the average number of visits per month between January and August 2023) reveals that visits tend to drop in the winter months and rise in the summer months across all mall formats.
But the seasonal fluctuations are not uniform across the mall space. Outlet Malls, which have predominantly outdoor layouts and fewer indoor experiential offerings (such as movie theaters or bars) see the steepest drop in the winter and the most substantial boost in the summer. Open-Air Lifestyle Centers see a slightly smaller winter visit dip, perhaps because this format tends to include various enclosed experiential offerings, such as gyms, restaurants, and movie theaters, which may be driving visits during the colder months.
Meanwhile, Indoor Malls exhibit the smallest seasonal fluctuations between January and August – although this format also sees a boost in visits during the warmer months as consumers look to escape the heat.
Shelter from the Heat
While focusing solely on visit numbers to Indoor Malls seemed to show relatively minor seasonal fluctuations, diving into the seasonal median dwell time reveals that this format also gets a substantial summer boost – particularly in warmer states. As the chart below highlights, each state has its own unique median dwell time range – shoppers in Florida and Texas spend more time in the mall, on average, than shoppers in Michigan or New York. But each state also has its own seasonal pattern, with hotter states such as California, Georgia, Florida, and Texas all seeing a marked increase in their indoor mall median dwell time in July and August.
The seasonal median dwell time data suggests that residents of states with cold winters – like New Yorkers and Michiganders – may prefer to take advantage of the summer sun and not waste the warm weather on Indoor Malls. But in states with year-round sunshine, such as California, Georgia, Florida, and Texas, consumers may favor extended mall visits during the peak of summer to beat the heat and enjoy some air conditioning with their retail therapy.
Seasonal Patterns Growing More Pronounced
Looking at 2023 median dwell time on a YoY basis indicates that malls’ summertime popularity may be growing. The median dwell time for Indoor Malls in July and August 2023 was higher than in 2022 for all states analyzed, with the biggest increases seen in California, Georgia, Florida, and Texas. Whether this increase is due to the rise in consumer confidence in June and July 2023 or the higher-than-normal temperatures remains to be seen. Either way, the rise in dwell time highlights the enduring appeal of malls as versatile spaces that offer more than just shopping.
Different Mall Formats Serve Different Functions
Location analytics reveals that each mall type – Indoor Malls or Open-Air Lifestyle Centers, urban or suburban, California-based or Georgia-based – tends to serve a different function. Examining visitation patterns for these retail destinations highlights the unique role that each mall type plays in the wider retail space.