Shoppers Head Back To US Malls
Visitors are coming back to indoor malls, hopefully signalling that the worst days of the pandemic are behind us. A sample of 50 major malls across the US registered 86% more visits in March 2021 compared to the same month last year. Even though these numbers are still 24% lower than those from March 2019, mall owners are optimistic after this recent improvement.
After the past year, people obviously could not wait to go out again. This return to the mall is another step in that direction, illustrating the customers’ desire to enjoy social activities, dine, and go back home with their bags full. The government stimulus checks have helped mall shops stay afloat, so now they are ready to welcome vaccinated shoppers back to their favorite form of recreation.
This is yet another sign that the vaccine rollout has made an enormous impact on the overall economy in the US. Even in February, Valentines’ Day resulted in a big jump in sales. At this point, most restaurant owners and retailers expect this upward trend to continue over the summer.
However, the improvements are not equally distributed across retail sectors. Shoppers are currently more focused on casual clothing and accessories, less so on formal and business attire. Even though some workers have returned to the office, most people are still working from home, reducing the need for business-appropriate clothing.
Due to this uptick in shopping traffic, rent collection on mall space is also recuperating. Ami Ziff, director for national retail at real-estate firm Time Equities, is the owner of eight enclosed shopping malls and several outdoor ones. He said, “Our collection rates are above 90%, that’s really good news.”
The first quarter of the year is usually crucial for the shopping-space owners, and while some retailers end up filing for bankruptcy protection, there are small businesses that have insured their assets for cases like this, allowing them to make rent.