How Is Shopping Changing in 2023?
June 1, 2023
When the pandemic forced multiple shifts in people’s daily lives, consumerism began to look different than it ever had. Shopping moved almost completely online, and if any brick-and-mortar stores remained open, they didn’t do so without occupancy limits and social distancing. With such drastic changes, the “retail apocalypse” seemed to accelerate, forcing store closures and record-low foot traffic to retailers. Now that the pandemic has been declared to be over, how are consumers shopping in 2023? Is in-person shopping continuing to lose popularity as consumers prioritize the convenience of online shopping? Or, are Americans returning to in-person shopping after years of delivery and curbside pickup?
To better understand consumer shopping habits in 2023 and how they may be shifting post-pandemic, we analyzed foot traffic to a variety of shopping destinations in Q1 of this year.
Shopping in 2023 – A Foot Traffic Break Down
When we analyzed year-over-year foot traffic to shopping locations in Q1 2023, we found that our Shopping category experienced a significant level of growth in foot traffic. From Q1 2022 to Q1 2023, foot traffic to places in this category grew by 20% overall. More granularly, all groups within the Shopping category experienced substantial growth as well. Arts and crafts supply stores saw the greatest increase in year-over-year foot traffic, boasting a 40% increase. Consumers are likely prioritizing DIY projects and hobbies again, in contrast to 2022. Similarly, shopping malls seem to be attracting more shoppers in contrast to recent years, as malls saw a 20% increase in foot traffic year-over-year.
While the pandemic led to store closures and retailer bankruptcies, 2023 may be the year that shopping at malls takes the stage once again. Behind arts and crafts stores, department stores—which are usually located in malls—experienced the second-highest increase in foot traffic in the Shopping category. Department stores experienced a 34% increase in foot traffic year-over-year. Also boasting significant foot traffic growth, outlet malls and shopping centers saw increases of 32% and 31%, respectively.
It seems that shopping malls are being revived, but why might this be? Did the pandemic pave the way for a more enriched shopping experience for consumers and businesses alike? As consumers are shopping in 2023, what’s changing?
A New Wave of In-Person Shopping
The pandemic forced consumers to find entertainment, dine, and even do their shopping from inside the home. Many companies even shifted from in-office working to working from home in the midst of pandemic concerns. These drastic changes left lasting effects. In-store pickup and curbside pickup became permanent shopping options for many retailers. Moreover, remote work is still growing in popularity as more and more Americans prefer to work from home.
After years of strict pandemic regulations, consumers gained a renewed appreciation for in-person activities in 2022. As consumers adjusted to a new normal, shopping was seen as a social event and a way for consumers to find entertainment outside of the home. As shopping regained its popularity last year, shopping centers seemingly came back from the dead. So we’re wondering: are shopping malls the place to be in 2023?
Is the “Retail Apocalypse” No More?
Not only are shoppers back in stores, but they’re shopping differently this time around. Shopping is now seen as a form of entertainment, so consumers are expecting more from their in-store experiences. This means retailers will likely need to come up with innovative ways to draw in visitors who desire an immersive and enriched experience.
On top of that, consumers are shopping more and more in suburban malls as many of them work from home, allowing more time for social outings closer to home. With the suburbs buzzing with new life, and shopping malls seeing visitors once again, we may start seeing an increase in the development of these areas. For example, a popular mall in New Jersey will soon be adding luxury apartments and community centers to its surrounding area, likely to boost traffic to retail locations. It’s clear that shopping in 2023 looks different than shopping before the pandemic, but the resurgence of shopping could be fueling local communities more than ever before.