Shopping Mall Traffic Returns – But Is It Sustainable?

As vaccinations increase, and economies reopen, consumers are becoming more comfortable returning to pre-COVID activities.

One notable activity was visiting shopping malls, and data shows foot traffic is starting to return to pre-COVID levels.

According to, outdoor mall visits in July 2021 were up 2.1% compared to 2019. Indoor mall visits were nearly flat vs. 2019, down by 0.1%.

Throughout the pandemic, malls experienced a precipitous fall in foot traffic. This was in part due to the non-essential nature of mall-based stores, but also an acceleration of a secular trend driven by e-commerce.

As we think through the return to a post-COVID world, it’s important to look beyond the immediate impact and consider which businesses are both of high quality and temporarily affected. In malls, department stores were facing negative headwinds already. But players in the luxury space stand to experience a different outcome.

Gyms were also directly impacted by closures in 2020, with players like 24-Hour Fitness filing for bankruptcy last year. It’s interesting to think of what this means for current leaders such as Planet Fitness as the industry undergoes a period of consolidation.

As we closely track the return to normal, we are letting data tell the story, as we search for quality businesses in a rapidly-changing brick-and-mortar environment.

Twitter:  @_SeanDavid

The author or his firm may have positions in mentioned securities at the time of publication. Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of any other person or entity.

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