When we got off Northway Exit 20 in Warren County last weekend, there wasn’t a long line of cars waiting to turn left onto the famous “Million-Dollar Half-Mile” of shops nearby of Lake George.
Oh-oh, I thought. Perhaps the email from a retail research aggregator with the provocative subject line “Are Outlets Out?” he was dead
Locals know that Exit 20 can get backed up as bargain hunters compete with commercial traffic that uses the same northbound lane of Route 9 to access Vermont and heads east for Route 149, located just beyond the five exit centers that span both sides of the highway. .
But I could see packed parking lots as we drove along, stopping for shoppers on the crosswalks that passed from center to center for discount finds like Adidas, Levi’s, Eddie Bauer, Coach and other national names.
Spring and summer have been tough, however, for enclosed malls, outdoor lifestyle centers and retail outlets, according to Placer.ai, a location analytics company that tracks shopper visits.
The points of sale, in particular, have seen visits decrease compared to 2021, every month since May; mall and outdoor visits turned negative in July.
Pleasure blamed the decline on “persistent challenges” from inflation and high gas prices, which reduced consumers’ discretionary spending or made them think twice about recreational shopping.
One bright spot could be a drop in gasoline prices from June highs, which Placer reported last week was evident in August outlet visits, where the year-over-year decline was slightly less than the which had been in July.
Placer also said that while August’s monthly data “paints a picture of overall struggles,” a look at the change in weekly visits from 2021 indicates “a more positive situation” toward the end of the month, which could indicate an upswing that will lead through the fall.
(Since the Placer report, the government released August’s consumer price index, which rose 8.3% in August despite lower gas prices. Inflation pushed up consumer bills groceries 13.5% above August 2021).
Laura Kohls of KDA Hospitality, which operates the Adirondack Outlet Mall at Exit 20, sees “some truth to the concerns” expressed in the Placer foot traffic report.
But tenant stores that have cultivated relationships with both local shoppers and repeat tourists “are aware of their performance,” he said by email.
“[W]If there may be less foot traffic in some places, the shoppers who make the trip are there to shop,” he noted.
Exit 20 outlets benefit from their location near year-round vacation destinations in the lower Adirondacks. Sales may peak in July and August, but “we’ll continue to see good results throughout the year,” Kohls said.
Like other vendors, retailers have experienced supply issues affecting product mix and availability. “But for those with merchandise,” Kohls said, “the sales data that has been reported for the summer season shows that they sold it.”
Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. The opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. It comes to her a [email protected]
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