Technology continues to increase efficiencies and create competitive advantages for investors in the retail industry. Sophisticated investors are using satellites to count cars in parking lots to gain a real-time understanding of traffic attributed to same-store sales growth, an important metric for physical retailers. This technology provides investors with data support of store foot traffic before retailers disclose their quarterly financial results. It can be a basis of indication coupled with other metrics indicating if a retailer is most likely to meet, exceed, or fall short of projections and can provide investors with a significant edge.
Monitoring traffic and counting cars in parking lots has been a trick of the trade for shopping center investors since the beginning of time. More cars in the parking lot and high trafficked retail properties are usually good indicators that tenants are participating in strong retail sales. The higher the tenant’s sales, the more they can withstand as it relates to operating costs, including rent. This is a strong indicator of a healthy property. Investors are known to observe shopping centers at different times of the day, days of the week, and times of the year to monitor and witness the foot traffic for prospective acquisitions in order to make good investment decisions. With technology such as geofencing and satellite car counting, it will be interesting to see how technology continues to create competitive advantages for shopping center investors moving into the future.