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Did Memorial Day inspire shopping to return to normal levels?

Published on Jun 2, 2020 in Blog, Daily Travel Index, General

Analyzing Simon Malls across 27 states reveals a striking trend

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On May 1st, 2020, Simon Property Group announced the reopening of 49 malls & outlet centers across the US. With stay-at-home orders being lifted across various states, Simon Property Group continued to reopen more locations as the retail industry was eyeing the Memorial Day weekend to recoup some of the losses experienced in the last couple of months. After almost two months of pandemic concern, how will people respond to the reopening? Did visitation to these malls return to normal levels during the holiday weekend? Can we predict how July 4th week will look knowing what we know now?

To answer the above questions, Arrivalist evaluated the visitation activity of 107 mall locations from July 1, 2019 to today. With this data, we set a baseline, analyzed how the events transpired during closure and compared the latest, post-reopening results to the baseline.

Above shows the set of Simon mall locations Arrivalist is monitoring across 27 states. Only properties that have reopened since closure are included

Understanding Normal Levels

In order to know if we have are experiencing a return to normal levels, we have to understand what that means. Arrivalist analyzed all traffic to the malls on a weekly basis from Jul 1, 2019 (Monday) through Mar 8th, 2020 (Sunday) to set a baseline for “Normal Weeks” across the 107 properties.

The chart above shows the average index is at 100% and how each week from July 1, 2019 compares to the average. While we do see increases in traffic during Black Friday and Christmas Holidays, the typical range of weekly visitors tend to be within 20% above or below the average.

Impact of COVID-19

To understand what has transpired over the past 2 months, we compared the weekly index from the start of the year. Historically, the month of January starts out slow, and visitor volume tends to steadily increase as we head towards spring break. In comparing the visitor volume, we can observe that the weeks leading up to March 8th demonstrate a normal trend with a slow start to the year and visitation peaking after President’s Day/Valentine’s Day weekend.    

On March 13th, 2020, the US government declared a national emergency over coronavirus, and for the first time, we saw a dip in volume of visitors to 74% below the weekly average.

In the subsequent week, Simon Property Group announced complete mall closures on Mar 18th, 2020, bringing visitation to a halt two days into that week.

Memorial Day Weekend

May 1st brought the announcement of the reopening of 49 Simon locations. Arrivalist watched as more states lifted stay-at-home orders and the Mother’s Day holiday and pent-up demand inspired shoppers to head to the malls. On Mother’s Day week, the first full week since reopening, we observed about 21% of the average visitor volume to the reopened malls.

Traffic to malls continued to increase leading up to Memorial Day weekend, where the index reached about 44% of the typical average, double the visitor volume observed during Mother’s Day weekend – showing early signs of recovery. While this increase in traffic volume is extraordinary and in the right direction, it is important to note that we are still well below the average visitor volume for a typical week.

Moreover, the recovery is not uniform. For example, we have seen malls in Mississippi recovering at a much higher rate (83.1% of average on Memorial Day week) than malls in California (17.3% of average on Memorial Day week). The rate of recovery from two states is shown below.

Predicting July 4th Shopper Volume

Predictions in these uncertain times are to be received with great caution, especially considering the larger unknown of COVID-19 impact in the coming weeks. Considering what we know right now about the number of cases decreasing, as well as the impact of mall reopening and Memorial day, the Arrivalist team predicts that for the week of June 29th  – July 5th, we will see Simon Property’s collective visitor volume in the range of 62.5%- 67.5% of the average weekly visitor volume. Barring unforeseen setbacks, we are hoping some locations will see visitation return to normal levels by this time.

Only time will tell how we fared in our predictions; however, we will continue to look forward to the next holiday period and another boost toward economic recovery.

Methodology

Arrivalist uses a panel of GPS signals representing road trips taken specifically in cars (excludes travel by air). A trip is measured as one where the user has been to one of the 107 Simon Properties for at least 20mins. For a full list of properties analyzed, please contact info@arrivalist.com.

Don’t miss the free public tool available on Arrivalist.com that monitors the daily update of travel activity in United States.