The audience of shopping centers is 20% smaller than before the pandemic
Even with the cooling of the covid-19 pandemic, the habit of going to the mall has not returned to normal. Establishments stopped receiving more than 100 million visits, a 21% drop from 505 million in 2019 to 397 million in 2022, according to data from the Brazilian Association of Shopping Centers (Abrasce).
Despite the return of face-to-face work in many companies and the freedom to walk safely, even in the midst of crowds, shopping centers are not as crowded as they used to be. Qualitative research conducted by Abrasce noted a decline in the frequency of visitors who were once the most diligent. People who used to go to shopping malls up to six times a month are now returning to the range of four to five times.
For Glaucus Humai, president of Abrasce, there are two hypotheses to explain this new behavior. The first is that most shopping centers are located in offices. That is, many visitors were workers who entered shopping centers at lunch time or after work. Today, this audience works from home several days a week. “They work from home and don’t go to shopping centers like before,” notes Humai.
Another factor is the increase in e-commerce sales. People are browsing online from books and electronics to clothes, shoes and food, “stealing” some of the purchases they previously made in person at malls. According to Lorain Pazzetto, CEO of retail technology company Grupo FCamara, the movement of consumers in malls and brick-and-mortar stores has not returned to normal due to the experience they have had with e-commerce in recent years.
“The physical world charges higher prices because there are fewer competitors in the neighborhood. Online prices are lower and comparison is easier. It’s different from having to go to another mall or different stores to see the price of the same shirt. The pandemic has also intensified experimentation with online shopping options, such as cashback and other benefits. In addition, people have become more bankable and can shop online,” he says.
According to Luiz Alberto Marinho, managing partner of Gouvêa Malls consultancy, there should be a continuation of circulation in shopping centers, but with experiences that go beyond shops and restaurants. “Shopping centers are already adapting to the new reality in which the shopping center will be repeated for medical appointments, cinemas, lunches or events. That’s why we look at events like the Mundo Pixar exhibition in Eldorado or the Van Gogh exhibition in Morumbi Shopping,” he says.
For the expert, malls that adapt tend to recover faster. “Before, it was necessary to go to a physical store to buy something. Now you must rather go there. That’s why shopping centers are looking for ways to create new reasons for people to go there,” he says.
Another factor that should help is the expected improvement in film yield. The film industry has been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, with many productions stalled, canceled or postponed. And blockbuster releases are a big draw.
Sales exceeded 2019
Sales in the country’s malls are on track to grow by 27.4% in 2022, compared to 2021, in nominal terms (not taking into account inflation for the period), reaching the R$ 202 billion mark, according to Abrasce’s estimate. In real terms (without 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 a significant recovery compared to 2019 (R$193 billion), the last before the arrival of the pandemic that caused the closure of trade. Sales in shopping centers have gone back seven years due to the health crisis. In 2020, sales fell by 33%, reaching R$129 billion, the same volume as in 2013.
“Some analysts have said the sector will take five to six years to recover sales. We see that this will happen in just two years”, President Abrašće points out.