I read the headlines of press releases quoted in the trade media about retail and I can't help but be amazed. Every now and then a shopping mall or a group of facilities managing a shopping mall announces a great success and record-breaking visitor performance," writes Yoram Reshef, CEO of Blue City Sp. z o. o. in his commentary.
And the media are picking up on this by giving articles such titles as "More and more Poles return to shopping malls", "More customers, higher turnover", "Shopping malls bounced back from the bottom. The traffic was almost like before the pandemic".
Propaganda of success
Most shopping centres have to explain their performance to the investment or pension funds to which they belong. I understand that they want to make a good impression on tenants and attract customers again, but these kinds of messages are rather propaganda of success.
On the other hand, industry organisations are trying hard to influence the government on the restoration of commercial Sundays. It is certainly a good idea to increase the turnover of shopping centre tenants while maintaining high security standards - thanks to this, customers would have one more day of shopping a week and, consequently, traffic in shopping centres would be spread over 7 days rather than 6 days. But why would the government agree to restore shopping Sundays when it is so great?
Results of the visits
The Polish Council of Shopping Centers reports that in the first week of unfreezing the activity of shopping malls, their visits were at the level of 53%-68%, between June 15 and 21, they ranged from 62% to 73%, and the week 13-19 July is the first week in which traffic in shopping facilities on working days did not fall below 80% of last year's values. The losses caused by the trade pandemic are enormous. It will be difficult to make up for them quickly. With 70-80% customers returning to the centres and the same value of turnover, money will not suffice for marketing, investments and loan instalments anyway, and the banks will not want to postpone the repayment of capital indefinitely.
We won't do much to spell reality. It is good that traffic returned to the malls at 80% last year. It's good that shops have opened and are selling. It's good that finally, it looks like the tenants have made a deal with the landlords. The entertainment is only just getting started, so more and more people will slowly come to large galleries with cinemas, playgrounds and other attractions. But it's always worth thinking twice before you throw off a premature success, because the effects of propaganda may turn against the winner.
We need to get back to trading Sundays, which were the second best day of the week for trading. The return of trade Sundays, of course for a certain period of time, e.g. a year, is a chance for all of us - trade workers, shop owners, shopping centres, but also suppliers and manufacturers of goods. Trade is an important part of the economy.
The author of the commentary is Yoram Reshef, CEO of Blue City Sp. z o. o.