Before covid and the advent of online shopping, talks about the mall's "dead" sprang out of the 1990s. Several experts have questioned why large malls geared towards urban sprawl are doomed to fail.
The Number of Mall Visits Continues to Fluctuate
The reasons are varied and, depending on who you ask, can be attributed to everything from the advent of Amazon (AMZN) to changing millennial preferences. However, most recently, there is another you-can-blame-it-all factor: inflation.
Outlet malls saw a 6.7 percent decline in visits year over year in June, compared to 25.7 and 28.7 percent increases in February.
"From this perspective, indoor mall visits fell by 9.5 percent, open-air lifestyle visits fell by 9.4 percent, and outlet malls fell by 14.3 percent," according to the Placer.ai report.
Although the research does not go too deeply into causality, at least part of the picture may lie in rising prices. Gas is now significantly higher than it was just a year ago, with an average price of $4.8 a gallon.
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Many Americans have already reduced unnecessary trips in order to meet rising costs. According to a recent auto insurance.com survey, 45% of drivers said they have already reduced the number and length of their trips, while 31% reduced expenses in other areas.
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Trips to a solitary stroll as a teenager may have already become a sign of extravagance and waste. There is, also, persistently, the issue of ever-increasing costs: apparel costs on average more than it does last year.
All of this can help create a world in which malls are more of a depressing than a pleasurable experience for many, especially those who earn less than their local average.
Foot traffic increased by 6.2 percent at open-air malls and 4.1 percent at indoor malls in June. They fell by 2.4 percent and 3.7 percent respectively.
A 'Cumulative Effect'
According to the report, rising decreases reflect the cumulative impact of inflation and gas prices on consumer visits. This does not necessarily mean a decline in purchasing; it may simply be driving a more efficient shopping experience where visitors seek to achieve more with each visit.
As pointed out by Placer.ai, it is also incorrect to begin yelling that the mall is gone because the numbers tend to fluctuate with historical and social trends; many are currently being transformed into entertainment centers; people may begin going to indoor malls more frequently as the weather coolers.
Despite inflation's apparent lack of slowing, many continue to hope for improvements.
The retail landscape in general has been significantly impacted by the combination of inflation and rising gas prices, with visits taking a significant toll.