Foot traffic at malls and outlet centers in the U.S. has steadily climbed since May and is now approaching pre-COVID levels, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of data from AirSage, which collects and analyzes real-time mobile signals, GPS and other location data to track movement patterns.
AirSage data shows foot traffic to U.S. malls owned by publicly traded real estate investment trusts was down roughly 15% year over year during the week ended Aug. 9, while foot traffic at outlet centers was slightly higher than 2019 levels.
The analysis included properties owned by Simon Property Group Inc., Taubman Centers Inc., Macerich Co., Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc., Brookfield Property REIT Inc., Washington Prime Group Inc., Pennsylvania REIT and CBL & Associates Properties Inc.
Among the analyzed REITs, Tanger's portfolio experienced the quickest recovery in foot traffic, likely due to the open-air nature of its outlet centers.
Stores at Tanger's outlet centers steadily reopened throughout the second quarter as states lifted closure mandates, and as of July-end, 95% of Tanger's total occupied stores had reopened. Those reopenings brought enthusiastic consumers ready to shop, Tanger CEO Steven Tanger said during the REIT's second-quarter earnings call.
"Basically, when the mandates were lifted, people were excited to get out of their houses and go to shop," Tanger noted, according to a transcript.
Properties owned by Simon Property Group followed a similar trend, with its outlet centers showing a quicker recovery than its enclosed mall properties.
"I do think the consumer generally feels a little more comfortable in the outdoor environment," Chairman, CEO and President David Simon said during his company's recent earnings call, according to a transcript. He added, however, that increased foot traffic was also correlated with a lower prevalence of Covid-19 cases in a given location.
AirSage data shows foot traffic at properties owned by Taubman Centers and Macerich has rebounded the slowest thus far, still down roughly 25% year over year during the week ended Aug. 9.
The AirSage foot traffic data is available through S&P Global's new Marketplace platform.