Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The mall still lives

There comes a time when I finally have to turn a deaf ear to all the nay-saying.

How many of us in the industry hear over and over that the mall is dead? I beg to differ. Despite the drag it experienced compliments of the recession, the mall is managing to survive -- and trend arrows point to continued recovery.

Today’s news out of the Wall Street gate?: “Mall traffic improves.” Analyst Adrienne Tennant wrote in a note to investors that a calendar shift for spring break this year has strengthened March traffic at malls.

“With many non-college spring breaks having shifted from April week 1 last year to March week 5 this year, we would expect to see a continuation of strength into the end of the month,” penned Tennant. “With several retailers offering trend- and target-right spring flows, when the product is right, shoppers are picking up multiple items and are opening their wallets.”

Urban Outfitters, Gap's Banana Republic, Talbots and White House|Black Market are all experiencing strong customer traffic, Tennant said.

I noticed last week at Southpointe Pavilions, an outdoor lifestyle mall in Lincoln, Neb., that traffic was brisk. Granted, the city had a little reprieve from winter snows, with highs reaching into the 50’s, but still shoppers were out in force and that’s all that matters. Banana Republic was booming and so was Talbots.

I’ll be meeting with scores of shopping center developers this May at the annual RECon convention in Las Vegas. Let’s hope the mall traffic numbers continue to climb, and we’ll all dispense with the nay-saying and generate some positive press for a change.

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