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11/15/2021

Placer.ai: The holiday shopping season may have begun in October

Al Urbanski
Real Estate Editor & Manager
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Santa's big show might have debuted last month.

There isn’t a retail research firm or an investment house that hasn’t predicted an early start to a holiday season in which product availability is being curtailed by supply chain problems, and Placer.ai’s October Mall Index indicates Christmas shopping is underway.

Placer.ai, whose index tracks visitors at 200 centers, reports that visits were up 3.2% for enclosed malls and 4.7% for outdoor and outlet centers compared to October 2019. The foot traffic analytics company reported the first big upsurge of mall visitors this past July, when outdoor centers had a 2.1% increase and malls a 1% bump over 2019.

Versus 2019, traffic declined in both August and September, but both retail sectors were up by about 10% over September in the latest tally. The return to a more traditional holiday retail season may have just as much to do with the surge in shoppers as product availability, according to Placer.ai.

“Malls have other assets that could give them even more strength,” said the company’s marketing VP Ethan Chernofsky. “The winter months privilege indoor locations, and the combination of entertainment and dining options in a single space give malls the ability to provide a full day out. This year the period will likely be less defined by Black Friday visits and more by an expanded approach to when to shop.”