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Data Intelligence Firm Brings Much Needed Transparency to Retail Traffic

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Thasos Group, an alternative data intelligence firm that transforms location information from mobile phones worldwide into real-time, objective and actionable insights, recently published its Q2 2017 Mall REIT Research Report, which brings much needed transparency to mall foot traffic, according to a prepared release.

Based on the largest repository of high quality mobile phone location data after Google and Apple, and with little demographic bias, the Thasos platform provides a window of visibility into foot traffic at malls throughout the day, every day, with coverage of nearly 100% of US mall properties.

To quantify the accuracy of Thasos data, the company predicted 1Q17 year-over-year growth in same-store sales and same-store transactions for mall anchors—including Macy’s, Nordstrom, Dillard’s and Sears—that matched reported numbers to within 0.7% on average, the release says.

With accelerating growth in e-commerce and the fate of brick-and-mortar stores being questioned, foot traffic to malls has been the subject of ample speculation in recent months. But accurate foot traffic has remained largely elusive due to the lack of sensors REITs have deployed at their properties to count visitors, the release says.

Many REITs count visitors for only a small sample of malls—occasionally as few as one mall—and represent such visitor trends as an indication of performance for their malls nation-wide. Thasos, on the other hand, monitors foot traffic at nearly every property for each of the top 30 REITs by market capitalization.

“As our analysis has shown, accurate foot traffic is highly correlated to same-store sales figures,” says Greg Skibiski, CEO of Thasos. “It’s therefore surprising that most of the industry’s largest REITs lack this data, which is valuable not only for forecasting sales but also measuring the effectiveness of promotions, calculating conversion rates and ultimately providing guidance to investors. For the past three years, Thasos has been delivering real-time intelligence across almost every industry on metrics like customer visits, retail deliveries, airline passengers, hospital patients, manufacturing hours worked and more, and now we’re pleased to bring much-needed transparency to what has historically been an elusive fundamental REIT metric.”

Research Findings Include:

  • Most REITs operating malls classified as high-quality Class A by Green Street Advisors have negative YoY foot traffic on a rolling quarterly basis through May 2017.
  • The largest and most prestigious mall operators have the greatest quarterly YoY declines in traffic:
  • Simon Property Group (SPG) (-5.4%)
  • General Growth Partners (GGP) (-5.7%)
  • Taubman Centers (TCO) (-6.2%).
  • High-tech stores such as Apple, Microsoft, and Tesla have no effect in preventing declining traffic.
  • Malls with destination restaurants such as Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang’s underperform by 3.5%.
  • Malls with high-end department store anchors such as Nordstrom and Macy’s underperform by 3%.
  • Malls and strip centers with grocery stores and consumer staples outperform by 5%.