Chicago malls saw the biggest bounce-back in traffic

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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Chicago saw the greatest returns in both mall and hardware store traffic this summer.

Of five major metros studied by a transportation analytics company, Chicago posted the largest return of customers to malls with an 18% increase in June 2021 versus January 2020.

The slower pace of mall re-openings in Los Angeles, meanwhile, left that metro still 8% behind traffic levels of early 2020, according to a seven-month study undertaken by Inrix Trips.

The study found that traffic levels rose in synch with vaccination levels, posting a 70% increase in mall visitors across all markets through May 2021.

Hardware stores outpaced malls throughout the pandemic for customers, posting increases higher than 36% in both July 2020 and April 2021. With an increase of more than 60% last summer, Chicago also posted the highest increase in hardware store traffic in July 2020, while Home Depots and Lowe’s in New York weathered a 2% decline.

“Location made a big difference in traffic.  In Atlanta and Austin, malls opened back up early on.  But in Los Angeles and New York, they stayed closed until the fall of 2020,” said Inrix analyst Bob Pishue.