Traffic Down 30% To 50% At DFW Indoor Malls During The Holidays
A coronavirus surge and lingering fears about indoor disease transmission caused huge year-over-year traffic declines at DFW-area shopping malls during the hallmark Christmas shopping days of Dec. 22 through 24, according to new data from Placer.ai. Indoor malls suffered traffic reductions ranging from 30% to more than 50% in that time frame.
Even though DFW malls saw year-over-year traffic declines improve somewhat on Christmas Eve, overall traffic gains made in the early autumn months of 2020 were quickly lost in late December as the pandemic raged again, Placer.ai spokesperson Ethan Chernofsky said.
"The unique nature of COVID is almost a permanent storm of negatives for a mall given its enclosed space, having a lot of things shut down and the element of having to come out and spend time there, which makes people more nervous," Chernofsky said.
Mall traffic showed signs of a comeback in September and October, prompting some optimism about retailers possibly experiencing a better shopping season than expected in 2020, Chernofsky noted. But the return of massive coronavirus outbreaks after the Thanksgiving holiday stalled any gains made in October and September.
New cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. were hovering around 45,000 a day in the U.S. in late September, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that jumped to 247,544 new cases on Dec. 17. The Dallas area has been surging for a few months, causing Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to roll back maximum capacity at restaurants in North Texas in early December. Tarrant County is particularly struggling, with an average of 2,510 new cases a day over the last two weeks, according to The New York Times.
"We had a feeling this holiday season may be a lot better than many expected, and then obviously the tremendous resurgence of COVID cases and the continuity of 'anything that can go wrong will go wrong' in 2020," Chernofsky said.
As a result, every major mall in DFW saw its traffic fall year-over-year during the three-day holiday shopping period ending on Christmas Eve.
NorthPark Mall, home to many Dallas luxury retail destinations, saw its year-over-year traffic fall 33.2% on Dec. 22, 28.6% on Dec. 23 and 15.5% on Christmas Eve, according to Placer.ai.
Galleria Dallas booked similar stats during the same three-day period, with traffic down 32.3% and 32.9% year-over-year during the first two days and roughly 22% on Christmas Eve.
Traffic at Plano's The Shops at Willow Bend fell 45.1% year-over-year on Dec. 22 before plunging deeper to 51.7% on Dec. 23, Placer.ai data shows. The mall experienced some traffic improvements on Christmas Eve, but the number of shoppers recorded on-site for the final shopping day of the season still came in 32.4% lower than 2019 levels.
One silver lining in Placer.ai's mall traffic data comes from the robust outdoor shopping segment, with DFW-based outdoor malls reporting lower traffic declines when compared to traditional, indoor malls during the week of Christmas Eve.
The Allen Premium Outlets in Allen saw its year-over-year traffic drop only 17.6% and 20.6%, respectively, during the two shopping days leading up to Christmas Eve. By Dec. 24, traffic was down only 1.3% year-over-year at the outlet mall.
Luxury outdoor shopping destination Highland Park Village in Dallas experienced a similar trend, with traffic on Dec. 22 actually up 2.5% from 2019 levels, and down only 19.4% and 7.2%, respectively, during the Dec. 23 and Dec. 24 shopping days, according to Placer.ai.
"Across the board, we saw outlet malls recovering at a much faster rate than indoor malls," Chernofsky said. "Partially because indoor malls have other restrictions that they have to consider, but also with this concept we feel like we are outside more, and so it's easier to limit who is in any particular location and that increases the level of comfort for the shopper."