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Data: Placer.ai; Chart: Axios Visuals

Holiday traffic at malls was surprisingly not terrible, data tracking firm Placer.ai says in a new report analyzing foot traffic from more than two dozen malls across the country. The findings are "not as bleak as many had feared."

By the numbers: Mall visits were within 30% of 2019's pace in October, the smallest decline since February (when traffic was up 10.7% over 2019), but the resurgence of COVID-19 cases caused visitor counts to reverse in November, declining 42.2% year over year.

  • December saw a holiday bounce back, with foot traffic down 32.4% from 2019's levels.

What's next: "Placer.ai’s team thinks that 2021 could be a big year for malls, as customers are itching to get out and shop," Placer analysts said in a report.

  • "We’ll have to wait and see what happens, of course, but it’s likely that the most difficult stretch is in the past for many shopping malls."

Go deeper

54 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Stalemate over filibuster freezes Congress

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell's inability to quickly strike a deal on a power-sharing agreement in the new 50-50 Congress is slowing down everything from the confirmation of President Biden's nominees to Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

Why it matters: Whatever final stance Schumer takes on the stalemate, which largely comes down to Democrats wanting to use the legislative filibuster as leverage over Republicans, will be a signal of the level of hardball we should expect Democrats to play with Republicans in the new Senate.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.