Shopping center viewers continues to be 20% beneath pre-pandemic
- October 16, 2022
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Growth in internet sales and popularization of the home office may be behind the movement
Even with the cooling covid-19 pandemic, the habit of going to the mall has not returned to normal. The establishments stopped receiving more than 100 million visits, down 21% from the level of 505 million in 2019 to 397 million in 2022, according to data from the Brazilian Association of Shopping Centers (Abrasce).
Despite the return to face-to-face work at many companies and the freedom to walk around safely, malls are not as crowded as they used to be. A qualitative research carried out by Abrasce captured a drop in the frequency of the most assiduous visitors: people who used to go to shopping centers up to six times a month dropped back to the range of four to five times.
For Glauco Humai, president of Abrasce, there are two hypotheses to explain this behavior. The first is that most malls are located in office areas. In other words, many visitors were workers who entered the malls at lunchtime or after work. Today, this audience works from home a few days a week “and they don’t go to the mall as much as before”.
The second factor is the increase in e-commerce sales. People search the internet from books and electronics to clothes, shoes and food, “stealing” a portion of purchases that were previously made in person.
“The physical world charges higher prices because it has fewer competitors next door. On the internet, prices are lower and comparison is simpler. It’s different from having to go to another mall or even different stores to see the price of the same shirt. The pandemic intensified the possibilities of internet shopping, such as cashback and other benefits. In addition, people have become more banked and can buy online,” says Lorain Pazzetto, executive at retail technology company Grupo Fcamara.
According to Luiz Alberto Marinho, managing partner of the consultancy Gouvêa Malls, the resumption of circulation in malls should happen, but with experiences that go beyond stores and restaurants.
“Malls are already adjusting to the new reality in which the shopping center will have recurrence due to medical appointments, cinema, lunches or events. That’s why we see events like the Mundo Pixar exhibition, at Eldorado, or the Van Gogh exhibition, at Morumbi Shopping,” says Marinho. “Before, it was necessary to go to a physical store to buy something. Now, you have to prefer to go there. That’s why malls look for ways to create new reasons for people to come to them,” he says.
Another factor that should help is the expected improvement in film yields. The film industry was one of the most affected by Covid-19, with many productions stalled, canceled or postponed. And blockbusters are a big draw.
Sales over 2019
Sales at malls in the country are on track to grow 27.4% in 2022, compared to 2021, in nominal terms (without taking into account the inflation of the period), reaching the mark of R$ 202 billion, according to an estimate by the Association Brazilian Shopping Center (Abrasce). In real terms (discounting inflation), the expected increase is 18% in the period.
If confirmed, the result will represent the highest level of sales in the history of the sector in nominal terms and an important recovery compared to 2019 (R$ 193 billion), the last year before the arrival of the pandemic that caused the closure of trade. Sales in malls went back seven years due to the health crisis. In 2020, revenue fell by 33%, reaching R$129 billion, the same volume as in 2013.
“Some analysts had said that the sector would take five to six years to recover sales. We can see that this will happen in just two years”, highlights the president of Abrasce.