Malls see a big rebound in foot traffic in March

Marianne Wilson
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Foot traffic to malls rebounded in March after falling in January and February.

March was a step in the right direction with regard to foot traffic in the nation’s malls.

Top-performing indoor malls saw a 16.8% month-over-month jump from February to March, while open-air lifestyle centers and outlet centers saw improvements of 18.4% and 26.1% respectively, according to the latest report from foot traffic analytics firm’s Mall Index. The increase came after visits to many malls in January and February went down.

The report, titled “ Mall Index: A Wild start to 2022,” also showed year-over-year visits in March were up 16.6% at indoor centers and 11% open-air lifestyle centers, but down 6.9% at outlet malls. However, compared to March 2019, visits were still down almost 10% at indoor and open-air lifestyle centers, and down more than 15% at outlet centers.

In other findings, weekly data for March compared to 2019, revealed that malls nearly breached pre-pandemic levels during the week of March 14, and actually did get back in the black for indoor malls. But with gas prices high and consumers on edge, it’s hard to say what happens next.

“The return to pre-pandemic levels shows that top tier centers continue to have a pull that brings in core audiences for a wider experience centered around their powerful combination of retail, dining and entertainment,” said Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing,“The latest rebound shows that these formats have a built in a draw that continues to create excitement and interest. Should the wider COVID recovery continue and the impact of some of retail’s newer challenges begin to dissipate, the next quarter could see a sharp rise in mall traffic and engagement.”

The Index analyzes data from more than 100 top-tier indoor malls, 100 open-air lifestyle centers (not including outlet malls) and 100 outlet malls across the country in both urban and suburban areas. uses anonymized location information from a panel of 30 million devices and processes the data using AI and machine learning capabilities to make estimations about overall visits to specific locations.