April 16, 2021

Mall Visit Observations - Luxury Brands, Nike Attract the Most Customers

By Elizabeth Blumberg
At Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets, shoppers sought out leading luxury brands and Nike, while overall traffic levels remain negatively affected by the drop-off in international tourist visits.

In a recent visit to Simon Property Group Inc.’s high-profile Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets in Central Valley, N.Y., OTR Global observed multiple trends supporting feedback reported on in recent coverage of athletic, apparel and handbag brands. Prior to the pandemic, Woodbury Commons was well known as a popular day-trip destination for tourists visiting New York. At its height, interest in visiting the luxury and aspirational retailers at Woodbury was high enough to support charter buses departing from multiple locations in Manhattan, including five daily buses from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Reflecting the disruption caused by the pandemic, trips to the outlet mall have been reduced from five to three per day. At the same time, the Woodbury Commons welcome center for bus passengers has been converted into a COVID-19 testing center.

While lines outside of popular stores are a mainstay of the mall, because of the drop-off in tourist traffic, they now exist more so because of state restrictions capping the number of customers and workers allowed in each store. The stores drawing the longest lines were dominated by the luxury space, with Prada S.p.A.’s (1913 HK) Prada, Kering S.A.’s Balenciaga and Gucci, Burberry Group PLC’s Burberry and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton S.E.’s Givenchy all boasting long wait times to enter their doors. Long lines were also observed outside Nike Inc.’s Nike Factory Store (Also see OTR Global’s March report on Nike). Summing up the changes resulting from COVID-19, a handbag store manager said, “Yes, the weekends are OK, and March and April were better than January and February, but there’s just no comparison to how it used to be.” Among all the retailers in the mall, Nike had the longest line, followed by Gucci and Burberry.

There were no lines outside of Tapestry Inc.’s Coach or Kate Spade or Capri Holdings Ltd.’s Michael Kors stores. While multiple managers discussed being hurt by a drop-off in tourist traffic, not all are equally dependent on shoppers visiting the United Sates. As a popular tourist destination especially among Chinese shoppers, Woodbury Commons has been hit harder by international travel restrictions compared with other outlet mall locations.

Noting the losses stemming from a loss of tourist traffic, a cosmetics store manager said, “We always had lots of sales to Chinese customers. Our products are very expensive in China. They used to come up in busloads, and now they do not. We’re just nowhere near as busy as we used to be.”

COVID-19 signs in Woodbury windows
Woodbury Commons Welcome center converted to COVID-19 testing center
Photo: OTR Global

Lines forming outside outdoor mall locations
Lines outside Prada and Balenciaga
Photo: OTR Global

People waiting in line outside Gucci
The line for Gucci wrapped around the store
Photo: OTR Global

People waiting in line outside Burburry and Givenchi
Lines at Burberry and Givenchy
Photo: OTR Global

People waiting in line outside Nike
Line outside the Nike Factory Store
Photo: OTR Global

Outside Coach and Kate stores
No lines at Coach or Kate Spade
Photo: OTR Global