The pandemic hasn’t killed malls. Make them smarter, traffic report shows

The pandemic has made mall owners more creative in their rental decisions. And according to a recent report by analytics firm Placer.ai, their bold moves are paying off in increased foot traffic.

Placer.ai, which collects data on customer visits and stay times, examined nine US malls that have added innovative tenants over the past year, including a casino, children’s play areas, enhanced dining offerings, and the US Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, and found that each mall Commercial saw an increase in the number of visitors.

“Although malls have been hit hard during Covid-19, many are finding ways to reinvent themselves and stay relevant,” Placer.ai said. Report States. The report notes that while malls face many challenges, they are quickly learning how to successfully reinvent themselves.

“We are seeing a fundamental reimagining of what a mall is,” said Ethan Chernovsky, Vice President of Marketing at Placer.ai, explaining the report in an interview.

“We see this shift to more types of entertainment, more interesting food and drinks, and then we see a fairly direct impact on the business,” he said.

“What’s happening in the mall space is amazing because basically we’re doing this 180 from the point of view of the retail apocalypse before the 2019 pandemic that the country is getting big and malls are dying, and only after a few years did we realize that shape might be ready for a golden age Another, ”said Chernovsky.

Shifts by first-class malls for more entertainment, food, and beverages can in turn have a beneficial waterfall effect for smaller and lower malls, where traditional clothing and beauty brands may find themselves crowded from malls turning more into experiences and eating.

Chernovsky said that mall landlords are becoming more flexible with short-term leases, trying new concepts they had previously rejected.

“It’s a completely different scenario than we were seeing as recently as five years ago,” he said, when the reaction to new concepts was often “Oh, that doesn’t fit in the mall.”

“Now just about everything is getting a chance to prove itself, and that’s driving a lot of innovation in filling these spaces,” he said.

Here are some examples mentioned in the report:

American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, Maine Place Mall, Santa Ana, California

The American Ninja Warrior Adventure Park, which allows visitors to experience obstacle course challenges similar to those in the popular TV show, opened this summer at MainPlace Mall. The mall saw its monthly visitors rise by 18% compared to the same period three years ago, in the pre-pandemic period, according to Placer.ai data. This attraction also increased the mall’s share of loyal visits by 13.4% compared to the previous month.

American Ninja Warrior Adventure Parks CEO Adrian Griffin said his company was “deeply stunned by the response” to its first commercial location in the United States. He said the MainPlace shopping center site “is progressing well on its goal of reaching more than 350,000 visitors in its first year.”

Since that opening, he said, other property owners in the mall have been knocking on our doors to get the idea in their mall.

In MainPlace Mall, an American Ninja Warrior attraction has replaced four former retail stores, and the company is looking for spaces with high ceilings, requiring a minimum ceiling height of 16 feet, with typical space ranging from 20,000 square feet to 60,000 square feet.

Hollywood Casino, York Galleria Mall, York Pennsylvania

York Galleria Mall in York, Pennsylvania was experiencing a steady decline in traffic numbers compared to the pre-pandemic years until the Hollywood Casino with 500 slots and 24 games of 80,000 square feet opened in the former Sears space.

When the casino opened in August 2021, mall visits were up 31.4% compared to August 2018, and have remained positive ever since, according to Placer.ai data.

Italy, Westfield Valley Fair, Santa Clara, California

In June, Italy, a conglomerate of Italian markets, restaurants, and a cooking school, opened its first Northern California location in the Westfield Valley Fair in Santa Clara.

Placer.ai reports that before Eataly’s arrival, Westfield Valley Fair was already one of the most successful malls in the country, but the new attraction appears to have boosted foot traffic even more.

The increase in visits compared to pre-pandemic numbers exceeded 20% for the first time in months during Italy’s opening week. It has since remained consistently high, with visits for the week of July 25 up 27.7% compared to the same week in 2019, according to Placer.ai.

99 Ranch Market, Westfield Oakridge Mall, San Jose, California

Asian supermarket chain 99Ranch opened its first commercial location in Westfield Oakridge Mall in March of this year. The supermarket also has a food court, tea bar and bakery.

There were long lines of visitors waiting to enter on opening day, “and it seemed like the noise that drew in the crowd was more than just a flash in the pan,” Placer.ai reported. The months after the opening have been the strongest at the mall over the past year and a half, according to Placer.ai. Visits rose 10% in July, and shoppers commented that the store addition has turned the mall into a one-stop shopping destination for them.

Surge Entertainment, Pierre Bossier Mall, Bossier City, Los Angeles

Surge Entertainment, a kids’ play space with zip-lining, bowling, laser tag, and arcade games, opened at the Pierre Bossier Mall in Louisiana in April. Placer.ai highlighted this addition in its report due to the effect on dwell times – the amount of time visitors spend in the mall.

Placer.ai reported that they saw a significant increase in average stay time after the opening of Surge Entertainment. The average sleep time jumped to 78 minutes after it opened, up from the average time of 51 to 58 minutes for the nine months prior to opening. Since then, average residence times have remained high and have held steady at 75 minutes or more.

Become a ‘slap in the face’ wake-up call

Placer.ai’s Chernovsky sees the above innovations, along with others, as mall owners have learned important lessons during pandemic lockdowns.

For the shopkeepers, the epidemic, Chernovsky said, “was such a crazy slap in the face, or cold water falling on you.” “But coming out of that experience, a lot of people are saying, you know, I don’t need a 10 year lease. Maybe I want the ability to keep my space fresh — to have basic tenants but also to have a part of the mix that is constantly refreshing itself. “.

“It is clear that we are entering a new phase of what can be expected of malls and malls,” he said. “There is a degree of creativity and willingness to test and try from the owners and the retailers themselves. I think it will bring a really exciting period over the next decade as we begin to reimagine what the mall is all about.”

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