Texas Reopening Spurs Retail Traffic With Some Shopping Centers Seeing 100%-Plus Surge In Visitors
Texas mall, restaurant and retail traffic soared in the days following Gov. Greg Abbott's reopening of businesses to 100% occupancy, with one mixed-use shopping center in North Texas seeing a 141% surge in year-over-year visitors over the weekend, Placer.ai said in data compiled exclusively for Bisnow.
With the governor's permission, Texas businesses had the option on March 10 to open at 100% capacity with no masks required. While some restaurants chose to continue limiting capacity and still enforce face mask usage, the governor's reopening order appears to have had a direct impact on traffic.
Eight major regional malls in Texas saw their collective average traffic rise 44.9% when comparing March 11-14 — the days immediately following the reopening, through the weekend — to the same period a year prior, when traffic had not yet taken a dive from the onset of the pandemic.
It is an even sharper rise compared to Feb. 25-28, when average traffic at eight major Texas malls was 26.6% below year-earlier levels, according to Placer.ai. The data analytics firm uses mobile phone data to track physical visits at retail destinations.
The eight malls and shopping centers surveyed for the report are Memorial City Mall, the Houston Galleria and City Centre in Houston; The Domain and Barton Creek Square in Austin; DFW's Stonebriar Centre; The Shops at Legacy in Plano; and Galleria Dallas.
All of the surveyed malls, except Houston CityCentre, saw their traffic on March 14 grow close to or more than 100% year-over-year, Placer.ai data shows.
Outdoor mixed-use shopping and retail center The Shops at Legacy in West Plano grew the most year-over-year with its traffic up a whopping 141.9%, followed by Barton Creek in Austin with traffic up 125%.
Galleria Dallas saw on-site visits on March 14 rise 118.9% from the previous year, while the Houston Galleria, Memorial City Mall in Houston and Stonebriar Centre in Houston recorded traffic jumps of 109.9%, 100.8% and 92.6%, respectively. The Domain in Austin's traffic rose roughly 81% from March 2020.
CityCentre reported a much more modest 23.2% traffic growth rate.
The impact of the Texas government's reopening order on retail traffic is apparent when comparing March 14's year-over-year traffic growth figures to those recorded on Feb. 15, 2021, when those same eight malls recorded total visits down 50% to 76% from year-ago levels.
Restaurants And Apparel Retailers Make A Comeback
Chain restaurants and retailers surveyed in Texas after the March 10 reopening date also showed customers coming back in force, with eight out of 11 chains studied by Placer.ai reporting traffic up at least 27% in March compared to year-ago levels.
Placer.ai's data collectively shows the March 10 reopening order played a large part in not only fostering traffic, but pushing it back to pre-pandemic levels not seen in more than a year.
"While weekly visits for a group of over ten chains operating in Texas had been down an average of 22.3% in the first six weeks of 2021, late February and early March were already seeing stronger visit rates," Placer.ai wrote. "Yet, following the fuller reopening in mid-March, visits had largely returned, if not surpassed, 2020 levels."
Apparel department stores appeared to make the quickest recovery, with Macy's and Dillards' year-over-year traffic up 118.6% and 104.3% on March 14, respectively, according to Placer.ai.
Restaurant chains Outback Steakhouse, Chili's, Buffalo Wild Wings and TGIF Friday's reported year-over-year traffic growth rates of 79.4%, 38.1%, 53.7% and 57.3%, respectively, on the same day.
Mega-retailers that offer a mixture of grocery products and other goods saw their results grow, but not as much since they remained staples even during the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile, mainstays of the retail and grocery economy like Walmart and H-E-B actually reported minor March 14 traffic declines of 0.7% and 7.9% year-over-year.