Consumers’ efforts to return to normalcy will expedite the transition from indoor malls to outdoor shopping centers, says data firm Placer. The firm reports a 34 per cent decline in visitors to outdoor shopping centers during the week of June 8 while visitors to indoor centers declined by 42 per cent. Fall in visitor turnout at traditional malls was fueled by more department stores and traditional mall chains closing or declaring bankruptcy, such as Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, Brooks Brothers and JCPenney.
Lockdowns and subsequent new safety protocols further accelerated this trend with many enclosed malls around the country either not yet being reopened or being shuttered. In New York City, Gov. Andrew Cuomo nixed plans to let indoor malls reopen when the city entered into Phase 4 of reopening last month. Just last week Neiman Marcus announced that it would vacate its Hudson Yards location, opened in March 2019, while closing three other U.S. stores.
According to retail data firm Coresigyht Research, the outlook for retail is grim. A June 2020 study estimated that US retail will see 20,000-25,000 closures in 2020, a significant increase from the company’s previous estimation of 15,000 in the early days of the lockdown. Of those closures, Coreseight Research anticipates 50-60 per cent to be mall-based and expects that this could “prompt an overdue rationalization of mall space.”
Already, some indoor malls are converting to fulfillment centers, offices and open air offerings. Westfield Valley Fair in San Jose, CA just unveiled a new open-air pop-up market, which will run until the middle of August.
In the wake of this, landlords who focused on outdoor malls, cited less of a dropoff in foot traffic than anticipated after their developments reopened in recent months.