A sharp decline in consumertraffic for indoor malls, and a slightly less impactful reductionin outdoor mall traffic, hit retailers hard during the pandemic,but it wasn't enough to knock either medium down for the count, anew study from consumer data analytics company Placer.aifound. 

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The study looking at the data from 10 indoor malls and 10outdoor malls across the country found that while significantreductions in traffic were expected and found, the shopping centersare rebounding nicely, and could learn some lessons from each othermoving forward. 

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The week of May 4, indoorshopping centers were down 74.6% year-over-year, while outdoorcenters were down 74.5%. As of June 8, those numbers rebounded,showing a decline of 41.7% for indoor malls and 33.5% for outdoorvenues.

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Although the "decline of theAmerican shopping mall" has been in the national conversation forover a decade, they are still here and still doing business. Theywere, at least, until mid-March when the pandemic took hold of theretail industry and slammed it to theground.  

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But, comparing those June numberswith those tallied the week of March 9, the last week before thepandemic came down in full force, the indoor centers showed only a9.2% reduction in traffic, while outdoor centers saw a reduction of15.8%. 

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Part of that decline, and itssubsequent comeback, is due to the True Trade Area (TTA) thefacilities have. The TTA is a measure of the larger population inthe expanded area around the center that the malls can expect todraw customers from. 

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Because of many stores in bothindoor and outdoor facilities being closed and only a limitednumber of "essential businesses" being open, the TTA for both wasway down in May, but as of June 8 was tracking only 9.7% behindwhat it was the week of March 9. 

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The report concluded that themodel of outdoor malls, which tend to center around essentialretail and also provide a more clear path to socially distanceoneself, could provide some lessons for their indoor counterpartsfor as long as the aftershocks (and potential full reboot) of thepandemic remain. 

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The report also concluded thatwhile neither model, through this exercise, proved to be immune tothe effects of COVID-19, the specific characteristics that eachmedium provides might be of interest to businesses looking todiversify their outlet offerings in the future.

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Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith, based in New York, covers the business of law, including the ways law firms compete for clients and talent, M&A and corporate work, leadership and marketing innovation. Reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter at @nycpatrickd