BOOM: Shopping Malls are Back!

BOOM: Shopping Malls are Back!

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A new study by confirms that shoppers are returning to malls.

That’s great news for legacy MULO (multi-location) brands and new concepts like pickleball, pop-ups, and eatertainment venues, which are filling spaces left vacant by department stores and other big-box retailers.

The study reveals five key findings and trends:

  1. Visits to malls are getting back to where they were pre-COVID. The pandemic dented how and where consumers browse and shop, but people are now returning to shopping centers with various stores and services.
  2. Due to remote work and more flexible schedules, shoppers go to malls at different hours. Mornings and late evenings used to be the most popular times, but now afternoon mall excursions have picked up. The relative share of visitors between weekdays versus weekends has remained pretty stable.
  3. Consumers are drawn to experiences. We’ve covered the uptick in eatertainment and sportstainment and the study confirmed that new types of retailers and restaurants will draw traffic. One example in the report is a giant sporting good store named SCHEELS in Arizona. The mega-store (250K square feet) houses an aquarium and a Ferris wheel!
  4. Pop-ups are another popular consumer draw. They not only create buzz but also give shoppers an opportunity to sample a new brand or experience. They can be a win-win when timed with peak shopping/traffic hours.
  5. The quest for luxury goods — especially in Sunbelt states like Arizona, Texas, and Florida — is attracting shoppers to malls that have high-end stores.

The study also examined traffic by type of mall experience. Outlet malls are returning faster than other shopping areas, reinforcing that despite some shoppers’ passions for luxury goods, bargain shoppers are seeking out places where they can find a “deal.”

So, the mall seems to be here to stay, although what’s inside it, when consumers frequent it, and what they do there may be undergoing a massive transformation!

To review the full report, click here.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.