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Are Canadian Consumers Returning to Shopping Centres in 2021?

Dec 22, 2021, 02:50 PM by Environics Analytics
New database shows that holiday periods are driving an increase for in-person shopping

Leveraging our recently launched FootFall database—which identifies the number of weekly visits to over 120,000 unique locations in Canada using near-real-time, permission-based and anonymized mobile movement data—we conducted an analysis of retail shopping centre visits across the country in 2021 from late summer to fall to understand how visits have changed from 2020 levels.

Below are several key findings:


Retail shopping visits were up 5.2% in late summer/fall 2021

In 2021, there were 684,460,950 total shopping centre visits in Canada (40,262,409 average weekly visits) over the 17-week period of August 8th to November 29th, compared to 650,909,859 total shopping centre visits (38,288,815 average weekly visits) during the same period in 2020.

The types of retail shopping centres used in our analysis include:

  • Neighbourhood Shopping Centre (trade area: <5 KM) - Designed to address the daily needs of consumers in an immediate neighbourhood. Generally anchored by a supermarket, drugstore or discount store
  • Community Shopping Centre (trade area: <10 KM) - Focused on daily needs but with a broader range of soft goods and services than neighbourhood centres. Usually anchored by more than one large-format store (supermarket, super drugstore or general merchandise)
  • Power Centre (trade area: 8-20 KM) - Typically comprised of three or more large-format retailers ("big boxes") that are primarily freestanding. Anchored by discount department stores, warehouse clubs and off-price stores
  • Regional Malls (trade area: 8-20 KM) - An enclosed centre that can be multi-levelled and focused on general merchandise or fashion-oriented offerings with an inward orientation of stores connected by common areas/walkways. Generally anchored by at least two large-format stores. Examples of regional malls include Dufferin Mall in ON, CF Richmond Centre in BC and Garden City Shopping Centre in MB
  • Super-Regional Malls (trade area: 10-30 KM) - Similar concept to regional malls but with a deeper breadth and depth of merchandise and stores and a more comprehensive mix of entertainment activities and dining options. Often situated on mass transit lines and along major highway corridors. Examples of super-regional malls include West Edmonton Mall in AB, Vaughan Mills in ON and Metropolis at Metrotown in BC

FootFall Traffic Trend report showing visit counts for retail shopping centres. 
Pictured above: national average weekly visits for five types of retail shopping centres from August 8th to November 29th, 2021, compared to the same period in 2020

 

Retail shopping visits in 2021 driven by Back-to-School, Thanksgiving and Black Friday

When looking at the change in visits for these five shopping centre types collectively, compared to 2020, the three major shopping weeks—Back-to-School, Thanksgiving and Black Friday—drove 11.3% to 18.8% more retail foot traffic.

Shopping Chart


The year-over-year increase of 17,016,800 more retail shopping centre visits observed in 2021 during these three major shopping weeks—Back-to-School, Thanksgiving and Black Friday—accounted for more than 50% of the total percentage change in retail shopping centre visits from 2020 to 2021 during the entire 17-week period of August 8th to November 29th.

FootFall Compare Foot Traffic report comparing visits to five retail shopping centre categories.

Pictured above: national average weekly visits by type of retail shopping centre from August 8th to November 29th, 2021

 

Black Friday visits to Super-Regional Malls up 74% in 2021

Across the entire 17-week period of August 8th to November 29th, 2021, Super-Regional Malls and Regional Malls generally observed growth in foot traffic. In particular, Super-Regional Malls saw an increase in visits in every one of these weeks, culminating with a 74% increase during the week of Black Friday (Nov 22-29) compared to the same week in 2020.

However, these increases were not uniform across the different types of centres. Community Shopping Centres, Neighbourhood Shopping Centres and Power Centres—experienced declines in visitor traffic outside of the key shopping periods, compared to 2020 which identifies a shift in consumer behaviours towards larger shopping centres in a key shopping period.

FootFall Compare Foot Traffic report showing percentage change in visits for five retail shopping centre categories.
Pictured above: national percentage change of visits by type of retail shopping centre from August 8th to November 29th, 2021, compared to the same period in 2020

*In January 2022, we will add results of the Christmas shopping period.

For more information about this analysis or how to use our data to better understand your consumers and trade areas, please get in touch.

 

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