Considering rampant spread of COVID-19, December mall traffic was surprisingly high
Traffic statistics at American malls in the early days of this year’s expanded holiday shopping season fell in step with the volume of COVID-19 cases being reported—except during gift-buying crunch time in December.
According to Placer.ai, the traffic analytics company for brick-and-mortar stores, the number of mall visitors decreased just 29% in October, a month during which weekly averages of new COVID cases ranged between 50,000 and 70,000. Year-over-year traffic then plummeted by 42% in November when cooler temperatures lifted weekly case averages into the 160,000 to 170,000 range.
New case outbreaks continued into December, but mall traffic rebounded. Compared to November, traffic rose by 10 percentage points to just a 32% falloff while COVID cases shot sky-high. On December 19, Super Saturday, 250,191 new cases were reported. The weekly average on that date was 218,633.
“December once again showed the resilience of consumer demand and the desire of shoppers to return to top malls,” said Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing at Placer.ai. “Visits were down just slightly behind the COVID high-traffic mark set in October. And importantly, this is putting mall visits up against December 2019, which was an exceptionally strong month for the segment.”