Malls seeing shoppers return for holidays

Malls seeing shoppers return for holidays

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Simon Property Group, the company behind popular Charlotte shopping centers Charlotte Premium Outlets and SouthPark mall, announced business was doing well in 2021 as it headed into the holiday season. A staff member in Charlotte agreed with the assessment, saying Black Friday alone showed people were ready to get back to shopping.

In its third-quarter earnings report, Simon Property Group said revenue increased significantly compared to this time last year.

In 2020, January-September revenue was $3.47 billion. In 2021, January-September revenue was $3.79 billion, a significant increase, according to the report.


What You Need To Know

Company behind Charlotte Premium Outlets, SouthPark mall said its company-wide third-quarter earnings outperformed last year 

Charlotte Premium Outlets executive said Black Friday and holiday crowds “coming back” after last year

Simon Property Group said store occupancy across its many properties was at nearly 93% headed into fourth quarter 


At the same time, Simon Property Group said store occupancy across its properties at the end of September 2021 was at nearly 93%.

In Charlotte, Scott Anderson, director of marketing and business development with Carolina Premium Outlets, said the growing return of physical retail’s popularity was no surprise.

“[It’s] something that people have been craving for the last year and a half as they’ve come back from having so many restrictions and having to be more careful,” Anderson said in his office at the outlets.

Like the rest of the country, America’s shopping malls dealt with the trials and tribulations of COVID-19, changing restrictions on public gatherings and economic upheaval.

“It’s been an interesting last — going on two years,” Anderson said. “It affected the industry more in the early days, the first three or four months, versus in the last year or so.” 

Anderson said, for the most part, stores kept up with changing government-enacted restrictions without headache, as many national chains and brands implemented the same in-store restrictions, sometimes before the government. He said it also may have helped the Charlotte Premium Outlets are considered an outdoor mall.

“I definitely think it does. I mean people, during the pandemic, certainly were more comfortable in an outdoor setting. But once you get inside, we have the same situations that malls have,” Anderson said while walking the property.

He’s been in the mall business for 10 years, exclusively in the American southeast, and has seen the ebb and flow of the business. Now, as vaccines are more widespread, Anderson said in-person shopping is somewhat returning to normal.

“I think a lot of people have heard over the last year and a half, and even prior to that, you know, that — troubles in the retail industry. And I think Black Friday really showed, it’s still strong,” Anderson said.

He continued, saying if you visited the outlets on Black Friday you would not doubt the staying power of in-person retail.

“Parking lots were full, common areas were full, stores had lines, and it just really shows that physical retail still has a very strong place in our shopping environment,” Anderson added.

As the holiday season continues, the National Retail Federation expects 2021 to be a historic year. The federation expects American shoppers to spend roughly $850 billion across physical and online stores this season. On average, Americans could spend $866 on holiday shopping this year, according to a recent Gallup poll.

“We’ve certainly seen a huge number of shoppers this holiday season. Last year was really the only holiday, even though this has gone on nearly two years, really the only one that was during the middle of the pandemic. So, what we’ve seen this year is that the crowds are coming back,” Anderson said.

In terms of Charlotte Premium Outlets’ staying power, Anderson said despite the pandemic, it was a good year.

“There were brands that didn’t make, stores that are no longer open, but in all actuality we’ve come out the other side of this very strong. You know — we are very close to fully leased. We have several openings and renovations that are planned in [20]22. And we’ve opened several new stores this year. So, from a standpoint of the health of the shopping center, right now, it’s as strong as it’s ever been,” Anderson said.

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