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Who Is Shopping at Malls?

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
February 14, 2024
Who Is Shopping at Malls?

With shopping center vacancy rates now lower than they were pre-COVID, we dove into the demographic and psychographic trade area data for leading Indoor Malls, Open-Air Shopping Centers, and Outlet Malls to understand who visited malls in 2023. 

Shopping Center Types Draw a Variety of Audiences 

Diving into the demographics of the trade areas of the various mall types in 2023 reveal both similarities and differences between the typical visitor to Indoor Malls, Open-Air Shopping Centers, and Outlet Malls. 

In all three mall types, the median trade area household income (HHI) in the three mall types was higher than the nationwide median HHI of $69.5K (according to the STI: Popstats 2022 dataset). But Open-Air Shopping Centers drew the highest income visitors, with a trade area median HHI of $87.8K in 2023. The trade area of Open-Air Shopping Centers also had the lowest share of Households with Children and the highest share of singles (One-Person and Non-Family Households). 

Outlet Malls lay at the other end of the spectrum, with a trade area median trade HHI of $73.9K, the highest share of Households with Children, and the lowest share of single households. And the median HHI and household composition for the trade area of Indoor Malls stood between those of the other two types. 

Different Family Segments for Different Mall Types

Even though Outlet Malls tend to draw the highest, and Open-Air Shopping Centers draw the lowest share of family visitors (Households with Children), diving deeper into various family segments reveals a more nuanced picture. 

For example, the trade areas of Outlet Malls do indeed contain the highest shares of the “Family Union” and “Promising Families” segments – defined by Experian: Mosaic as blue-collar families and young families in starter homes, respectively. But Open-Air Shopping Centers tend to draw the highest share of the more affluent “Flourishing Families” segment – perhaps thanks to the Open-Air Shopping Centers’ higher trade area median HHI. 

So while the demographic analysis can provide an overall snapshot of the various mall types’ audience, diving into the psychographics can yield a higher-resolution picture of the types of shoppers frequenting each shopping center category. 

Looking Ahead to 2024 

For the most part, malls – especially Indoor Malls and Open-Air Shopping Centers – succeeded in exceeding or staying close to 2022 visit levels last year, despite the economic headwinds. And while January data indicates that the space may be entering a challenging period, there are plenty of reasons to think that the dip in early 2024 foot traffic is just a temporary setback driven by a unique set of circumstances. As the year continues to unfold, tracking visits in this sector will offer more insights into the state of the 2024 consumer. 

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

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