Lessening Restrictions, Stimulus Checks Incentivize Shoppers to Return to Malls

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Battered by a year of record low customers and record low sales, an improving landscape is bringing shoppers, as well as hope and income, back into malls and retail centers.

Armed with stimulus checks and the urge to get out, a study of 52 sample malls across the country showed an enormous 86% increase in foot traffic over the same time last year. And customers aren’t just window shopping. They’re patronizing restaurants and bringing home full shopping bags.

Not all vendors are benefitting equally across the board, however. The highest sales right now are found in casual wear — not surprising considering the recent increase in remote work and stay-at-home trends — and finer accessories like jewelry and watches, perhaps reflecting a splurge from stimulus income to celebrate a cautious return to normalcy.

Mall owners worry the dust will settle after this initial spike from enthusiastic returning shoppers. But they, too, are cautiously optimistic. Valentine’s Day brought a big jump in sales, and retailers are hopeful the strong showing will continue through the summer months ahead.

Even rent collection is up currently, an important indicator of health in the retail sector. First quarter rents are often the worst of the year, as businesses who faltered from weak holiday sales tend to head into Chapter 11 at that time. Yet collection rates are above 90% this quarter, according to national retail real estate firms. Not just from traditional retailers, but also from adventurous entrepreneurs and other non-traditional light business tenants occupying much of the emptied retail space.

To read more about the retail climate and what’s happening right now in the industry, see the full article here: https://www.wsj.com/articles/shoppers-return-to-malls-with-an-urge-to-spend-11619501737?reflink=desktopwebshare_linkedin