Shopping malls, dismissed as dead, may make a comeback | cities

Shopping malls, dismissed as dead, may make a comeback | cities

While the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t seem to be nearing its end with rising cases and dwindling vaccinations, a report released on Wednesday shows that shopping malls – which have struggled for years due to a surge in online retail – are seeing a resurgence. People are having trouble going out in public, especially after nearly 18 months of restrictions in some major ones.

NS INRIX. study from, a transportation data company, found that as of June, the number of National Mall visitors was 5% above pre-pandemic levels. This comes after a 91% drop in April 2020 at the height of the pandemic.

In contrast, hardware stores – which include box office retailers and small chain home improvement stores – grew significantly during the pandemic, particularly in April 2021 (37%) and July 2020 (36%), the report also found. . But the extent to which malls were affected was surprising to Bob Pishu, transportation analyst at INRIX.

“We look at cities, and a lot of cities saw a 60% drop in traffic or something, which is unheard of,” Pishu says. “And to see more of that fall… the Great Recession probably didn’t even affect malls that much.”

Analyzing over 200 locations across five metropolitan areas, INRIX found that Chicago has seen the biggest recovery in mall visits, with an 18% increase in June compared to January 2020. Two other metro areas – Atlanta and Austin – saw similar spikes, while New York City returned to its baseline in June. Mall visits in Los Angeles are still down 8% compared to last year’s baseline, which the report’s authors point out is likely due to the area’s slow reopening process.

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Pishu notes that the likely reason for the widespread national spike in mall visits is “replacement costAnd “pent-up demand,” similar to the countless weddings that are now being scheduled because they were postponed or canceled last year. He said via email that potentially fluctuating going forward will remain, given that Los Angeles County had imposed another mask mandate After writing the report.

“That being said, the overall take is that people are not avoiding in-person retail,” Pishu says. “And it shows that despite going up against places like malls and malls, there’s still a lot of demand for that type of shopping and that experience.”

However, it is no secret that malls have been struggling for years with the rise of Amazon and many other e-commerce platforms. On average, the US shopping mall management industry declined by 4.4% between 2016 and 2021. According to IBISworld data, a market research company.

But the recent surge in mall visits may not be just temporary as people break out of the lockdown. INRIX notes in its report that retailers “have a positive outlook on the economy and their future,” pointing to National Retail Foundation data Which estimates that sales could grow between 10.5% and 13.5% this year due to a “combination of vaccine delivery, fiscal stimulus and private sector ingenuity”.

Pishu says: “Malls are not dead, and malls are not dead, especially in big cities.”

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