Economic headwinds are likely holding shoppers at bay, posits Placer.ai.
Malls rang in the new year with a bang in January. All three categories in Placer.ai’s Mall Index—indoor malls, open-air lifestyle centers, and outlets—tallied traffic increases over January 2022.
In February, however, the comeback faded.
Outlets and enclosed malls saw visits decline by 6.7% and 6.2% respectively compared February 2022. Lifestyle centers, which posted the highest traffic increase of nearly 5% last month, fell by 1.7% in the in the year-over-year comparison.
Malls experienced their greatest falloffs during the week of February 6, when traffic at indoor and outlet centers dropped by 10%. That week appears to be an annual poor performer. A year-over-three-year comparison done by Placer.ai revealed traffic declines of between 20% and 25% among all three mall segments.
“Looking at visits from a monthly perspective indicates that the pattern of just under YoY levels returned as the lower bar from January was replaced with a far more challenging February comparison,” said Placer.ai senior VP of marketing Ethan Chernofsky. “This reinforces the impressive recovery of malls in the face of a challenging economic environment, but shows that the true ceiling of the sector is still being limited by these headwinds.”
Chernofsky also noted that mall traffic tracked in January was compared to an Omicron-affected month in 2022, positioning February as a more accurate gauge of post-Covid recovery. In this newest index, open-air lifestyle centers had their strongest month from a YoY perspective since September.
Placer.ai’s Mall Indexes analyze data from more than 100 top-tier indoor malls, 100 open-air lifestyle centers, and 100 outlet malls across the United States, in both urban and suburban areas.
The digital traffic-tracker uses deidentified location analytics from a panel of 30 million devices and processes the data using artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to make estimations about overall visits to specific locations.