Area shoppers rediscovered that stores were pretty handy places in the week leading up to Christmas.
Shopper traffic was up across a sampling of Dallas-Fort Worth shopping centers the week of Dec. 20 vs. last year, when the pandemic’s social distancing rules were more strictly enforced. But the two-year snapshot is a mixed bag.
Five of the 10 shopping centers tracked had improved traffic vs. the week before Christmas in 2019, according to location analytics firm Placer.ai, which prepared the report for The Dallas Morning News. The Shops at Willow Bend in Plano had the largest two-year decline at 23.2%, and Grand Prairie Premium Outlets had the biggest increase at 22.8% more traffic.
And the pandemic’s big-box store winners — Walmart and Target, which gained market share as consumers consolidated shopping trips — continued to experience improved traffic both vs. 2020 and 2019.
Placer.ai, which uses location data from mobile devices, analyzed the local customer trends from Monday, Dec. 20, through Sunday, Dec. 26, vs. the same week last year and two years ago.
Sam’s Club and Costco, and the discount Burlington and TJX chains, including HomeGoods and Marshalls, also performed better than Christmas week the prior two years.
That wasn’t the case with all major chain stores for the week leading up to Christmas.
Customer traffic at Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and Best Buy was below the same week two years ago.
Burlington posted the biggest two-year traffic increase of 24%, and Kohl’s had the biggest decline of 18.2%.
The 10 big-box chains were selected for number of stores they operate in the 13-county region.
The 10 shopping centers were selected for their geography and type of center and are located in Allen, Dallas, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Mesquite and Plano.
Customer counts are a key measure of performance for shopping centers and stores, but may not reflect sales trends as more consumers have been embracing online shopping.
Still, almost two years after the first lockdowns, “it seems that the pandemic has actually enhanced offline shopping’s long-term prospects,” Placer.ai said in a report assessing the holiday season.
“The pandemic also reminded many consumers that ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone,’ ” or, the Placer.ai report said, shoppers simply realized that there are times when they like the discovery of in-store shopping.