Shopping malls still win using retail traffic data

by Bill McCarthy on 06-13-18

Nordstrom’s new ‘Men’s Store’ in New York just opened its doors (12.04.18), offering massages, shaves, and classic cocktails in the Clubhouse Bar. And staying true to its omnichannel obligations, there’s even 24/7 click and collect. Nordstrom is fully embracing the ‘retailtainment’ and experiential nature of new retail, making sure there’s a wow factor, and that its physical space also supports its growing online business.

“It’s a unique time to be building a big store, but we’re excited to bring a physical experience,”

Chris Wanlass, vice president and general manager of Nordstrom New York, told CNBC.

Innovations reviving brick and mortar

Headline-grabbing innovations like this are being undertaken across North America as the mature retail market responds to changing consumer needs and expectations. As ShopperTrak’s new market report Mall traffic data grows mall success in North America explains, landlords are investing in upgrades and refurbishments to keep interest in physical shopping alive, often factoring in more social space for unique dining experiences, events and leisure activities, that will complement retail.

Entertainment elements are being added such as movie theaters and climbing walls, while space is being created for a wider tenant mix that will draw the crowds. For instance, GGP (currently undergoing a merger with Bookfield Property Partners) has invested more than $2 billion to redevelop 115 of its properties, and is signing tenants that offer more experiential shopping, such as Indochino, Untuckit and Forever 21’s Riley Rose.

Only with reliable retail traffic data can landlords build an understanding of how shoppers are behaving, and develop concepts like these. The impact of anchor changes on traffic can be benchmarked, with successes replicated in other malls, and less profitable ventures scaled down.

Our report celebrates the changes taking place, and outlines how traffic data can be used in numerous ways to improve profitability for property owners, and put them in the best possible position to support their retail tenants.

Insight-driven decisions are shaping malls

Adapt or die is the underlying mantra. To remain relevant and competitive, most modern shopping centre portfolios in the US and Canada acknowledge the vital role traffic data plays in ensuring leasing strategy and marketing campaigns are aligned to customer needs, and really delivering results.

There’s a hunger for data that will prove whether or not investments are paying off. Little wonder the smartest developers are turning to traffic analytics to future-proof their malls. With traffic counting technology and data analytics systems in place owners can measure and react to key data findings, ensuring decisions are grounded in an accurate understanding of what is happening on the ground.

Here’s a useful summary of the types of data insight that can benefit retailers and property owners, as outlined in the report:

How traffic data drives mall and store profitability

  • Mall management and tenants can be fully prepared for known calendar peaks, and able to focus on boosting conversions on key dates.
  • Tenants can be briefed on when to expect weekly or daily power hours, or traffic surges driven by collaborative mall events.
  • Malls can be designed to maximise traffic hotspots and traffic flow, ensuring the layout and tenant mix are as profitable as possible.
  • Marketing initiatives can be fine-tuned in line with measured traffic trends over time.
  • Landlords can make the case for leasing charges based on traffic data, and can prove to tenants that improvements to the mall are delivering results in the form of higher traffic.
  • Retailers can make decisions based on traffic and demographic data provided by the mall owner.
  • Decisions regarding upgrades, extensions and additions — for example a new food court — can be made based on data analytics, and lease charges adapted accordingly.
  • Retailers are more likely to commit to longer leases if property owners can demonstrate the current and projected traffic numbers.

Traffic data validates rent levels

Clearly traffic data can play a vital part in retail planning and ongoing mall management. For landlords, being able to demonstrate traffic projections is extremely powerful — both as a service to tenants, and as a tool in the lease negotiation process.

Ideally when investments are made in a mall, traffic and average dwell time goes up, delighting tenants and giving landlords a good news story to share with stakeholders. Far from fading from view, North American malls can remain busy and buzzing with excitement as the years roll on, if the right decisions to adapt are made, and innovative new concepts succeed.

On the solid foundations of ongoing data analytics it’s possible to build a winning strategy to survive. The shaky ground of guesswork and gut feeling must be a thing of the past.

Contact us today for a demonstration on how traffic data can improve leasing models, and boost profitability in your malls.

Download the report to see how leveraging shopper traffic data can improve mall profitability.

Read more posts by Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is the General Manager of the Americas, in which he oversees regional efforts pertaining to the Traffic Insights business unit.