Mall Battle: Are Indoor Or Outdoor Shopping Areas Weathering the Pandemic Better?

Article originally posted on Globe St. on July 2, 2020

A sharp decline in consumer traffic for indoor malls, and a slightly less impactful reduction in outdoor mall traffic, hit retailers hard during the pandemic, but it wasn’t enough to knock either medium down for the count, a new study from consumer data analytics company found.

The study looking at the data from 10 indoor malls and 10 outdoor malls across the country found that while significant reductions in traffic were expected and found, the shopping centers are rebounding nicely, and could learn some lessons from each other moving forward.

The week of May 4, indoor shopping centers were down 74.6% year-over-year, while outdoor centers were down 74.5%. As of June 8, those numbers rebounded, showing a decline of 41.7% for indoor malls and 33.5% for outdoor venues.

Although the “decline of the American shopping mall” has been in the national conversation for over a decade, they are still here and still doing business. They were, at least, until mid-March when the pandemic took hold of the retail industry and slammed it to the ground.

But, comparing those June numbers with those tallied the week of March 9, the last week before the pandemic came down in full force, the indoor centers showed only a 9.2% reduction in traffic, while outdoor centers saw a reduction of 15.8%.

Part of that decline, and its subsequent comeback, is due to the True Trade Area (TTA) the facilities have. The TTA is a measure of the larger population in the expanded area around the center that the malls can expect to draw customers from.

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