Shoppers Return to Open-Air Discount Malls

June 4, 2020

Retailers are seeing customer traffic rise much faster than economists predicted. However, certain shopping centers appear to be faring better than others. For example, Tanger Factory Outlet Centers is reporting customer traffic back up to 80% of its pre-pandemic levels in some of its locales. The company’s properties tend to be in open-air shopping centers and offer reduced prices on merchandise.

“In good times, people like a bargain,” CEO Steven Tanger said during a recent virtual conference hosted by the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts. “In tough times like these, people need a bargain.”

Americans who were stuck at home for weeks are gradually reemerging. That has sent mall stocks rising too. Tanger increased 12% to $7.49 this week, hitting its highest intraday level since April 30. Simon Property Group, an owner of U.S. malls nationwide, saw its stock price increase 15% on Wednesday to the highest level since April 9, Bloomberg reports.

A report released last month from Big Red Rooster, a brand experience firm, predicted that COVID-19 could change consumer behavior with retailers in multiple ways, including a preference for open-air shopping centers over expansive enclosed shopping malls. Also, other industry reports show retailers are looking to maximize their outdoor areas and curbside services to try to bring shoppers back.