Westfield-owner Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has once again upgraded its guidance for the year, signaling a robust bounce back in the shopping mall sector. The company reported that tenant sales for the first nine months of 2022 have surpassed pre-pandemic levels, prompting a revision of their full-year earnings forecast.

Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, known for owning popular malls like Forum des Halles in Paris and Madrid’s La Vaguada, now aims to achieve adjusted recurring earnings per share of at least 9.10 euros ($9.16). This is an increase from their previous forecast of at least 8.90 euros in July. The company’s positive outlook reflects the strong momentum they have experienced in the third quarter, following a successful first half of the year.

This upward trend in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s performance mirrors a wider recovery in the shopping mall industry. Malls across Europe and the United States are seeing a return to more normal shopping patterns after facing intermittent restrictions over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Footfall and rent collection have rebounded significantly in 2022. Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield noted that sales are outperforming footfall, indicating that shoppers are making more purposeful visits to their malls.

In the third quarter, total tenant sales reached 103% of 2019 levels, demonstrating a strong recovery in consumer spending. Footfall in Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s portfolio of over 80 shopping centers across Europe and the United States has also bounced back, reaching 91% of pre-pandemic levels. These figures signify the growing confidence of consumers as they embrace in-person shopping experiences once again.

To improve their financial position, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield has been divesting assets in order to reduce debt. However, due to current market conditions, the company has decided to delay the completion of its European disposal program until 2023. The 4 billion-euro disposal plan, which is already 80% complete, was initially scheduled to be finished by the end of 2022.

Despite this delay, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s total gross rental income rose by 23% to 1.66 billion euros for the nine months ending September 30. This growth can be attributed to strong leasing activity, indexation, higher sales based rents, commercial partnerships, and parking income generated by their shopping centers.

The positive performance of Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield aligns with that of its French rival, Klepierre, which also reported an increase in revenue and footfall as retail trends normalize. It appears that the shopping mall industry is steadily recovering as consumer confidence strengthens and restrictions are gradually lifted.

Looking ahead, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield assumes that there will be no significant disruptions to the macro-economic environment and that there will be no further COVID-19 or energy-related restrictions. With their revised guidance and strong performance, the company remains optimistic about the future and the continued recovery of the shopping mall industry.

[Link 1: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Investor Relations](https://www.urw.com/en/investors)
[Link 2: Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield Newsroom](https://www.urw.com/en/newsroom)