Dallas-area shopping center traffic picked up the last weekend before Christmas – The Dallas Morning News
If you’re wondering who all those people were at the mall, you may want to check your own package tracking numbers.
Customer counts were up week-to-week at 10 shopping centers in Dallas and Collin counties for the week that ended Dec. 20, according to data gathered by Placer.ai for The Dallas Morning News.
One reason may have to do with shipping delays that sent people out to buy substitute gifts for the ones that didn’t make it in time.
Amy Nott, vice president of retail in JLL’s Dallas office, said she received a couple of emails five days ago alerting her about items that weren’t going to make it in time.
“One said I was getting a refund and the other asked me if I still wanted the order,” she said. “I went to the mall.”
Nott has 13 year-old twin girls and didn’t want to disappoint them — especially this Christmas.
Shoppers ventured out to brick-and-mortar stores as Texas reported a one-day record on Wednesday of 22,590 new coronavirus cases and nearly 300 COVID-19 deaths. The influx in shoppers coming as Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins warned just two days before Christmas that the county had only 17 ICU beds remaining — the worst tracked so far.
Physical stores have an edge late in every season, but online shopping had increased more than 30% in December from last year. Some people forced themselves to go out and shop; others believed that if they follow social distancing rules, going on errands is safe.
Sriram Sridhar, CEO of Lateshipment.com, said Wednesday the rates of shipping delays were unprecedented, with carriers even refusing to accept some shipments from senders due to volume and delivery concerns.
The season likely is ending up with “a good chunk of shipments in transit, missing delivery before Christmas,” he said. The firm, which tracks major package shippers, including UPS and FedEx, said the busiest parts of the season were marked by 20% delay rates.
Stores and shopping centers have been trying to make it safer and easier for shoppers.
Traffic at outdoor centers has recovered faster than it has at enclosed malls, according to the Placer.ai report.
Victoria Snee, chief marketing officer at Highland Park Village, said the “gorgeous weather” has been a boost to shopper traffic and outdoor dining. Jewelry leads merchandise categories doing well there, along with handbags, shoes and watches, she said. “Those categories have done exceptionally well.”
Some stores are still operating by appointment only and others have lines out the door to meet capacity restrictions, which are still at 50%.
Mall-based jewelry retailers such as Zales have also been booking appointments with customers, who more and more are just naturally starting their shopping online, White said.
Signet added several new online tools for shoppers in October: live messaging, buy online and pick up in store, and visual search, which allows shoppers to upload a photo of jewelry on a celebrity or worn by a friend to find a similar piece. Earlier this month, the retailer said its online sales for the quarter ended Oct. 31 increased 71.4% and same-store sales were up 6.8% from the 90% of the company’s stores reopened.
Jewelers reported that bridal engagement rings and diamond studs have been popular items. November through February is traditionally the season when a third of engagements happen, according to De Beers Group.
“Diamond studs are up because they look good with masks,” White said. He was at Stonebriar Centre in Frisco checking on the Zales store, one of 148 he oversees in four states including Texas.
The enclosed malls tracked by Placer.ai — Stonebriar, Town East Mall in Mesquite, NorthPark Center and Galleria in Dallas, Grapevine Mills and the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano — had week-to-week increases ranging from 31% to 44%.
Outdoor shopping centers in the group — Allen and Grand Prairie Premium Outlets, and Firewheel Town Center — posted traffic increases of 28% to 51%, Placer.ai said.
Traffic counts at Highland Park Village were up 7.3% from the prior week, but it has consistently been the outlier in the group with weekly customer counts that are flat to down only slightly from last year.
The 10 shopping centers were selected for their geography and type of center.
The customer counts at Dallas area centers contradict some of the new economic data about consumer health and capacity for spending.
The University of Michigan Consumer Confidence index reported Wednesday remained almost 19% below December of last year but move up slightly from November. Six-in-10 consumers made spontaneous references to the pandemic’s negative impact on jobs.
“Although the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been greeted as the beginning of the end, the end of the pandemic is still on the distant horizon in terms of a return to normalcy for consumer behavior,” said Richard Curtin, chief economist for the survey.
Projections for the holiday season varied greatly this year because there’s no precedent. Plus, heading into the holiday season, stores had not been able to recover the lost ground from the spring and summer shutdowns.
“Lately shopping center traffic has looked better than over the Thanksgiving weekend,” said Jeff Kittleson, CBRE senior vice president of retail services, as he was on his way to Galleria Dallas to purchase a gift.
“We just have to wait and see what happens,” he said. “With the savings rate up and people not traveling and reducing debt, the consumer may be using that spending power.”
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Published at Fri, 25 Dec 2020 21:56:15 +0000