Arizona saw spike in travel over Memorial Day weekend

Tucson, Arizona
Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

(The Center Square) – Arizonans don’t appear to have stayed home much over the weekend.

Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index uses anonymized cellular location data to track travel habits for the tourism industry, state agencies, and others. They found that Arizona residents took road trips of varying lengths at a 40 percent higher rate than the week before.

The company’s data from last Friday found that longer trips of at least 250 miles spiked significantly weekend-over-weekend. Their Daily Travel Index value is up 168% since the recorded low point on March 27.

Lake Powell, for instance, is one of the remote destinations which Arrivalist found had returned to at least 80 percent of its pre-pandemic volume last weekend.

While the trips to and from Arizona were still 76 percent below normal Spring Break traveling, likely due to Major League Baseball’s Cactus League action, intermediate road trips were back to volumes that nearly matched pre-COVID-19 levels.

“A state like Arizona is set up to probably have a quicker recovery, in terms of tourism, than a lot of states because of that,” Clement said.

Arizona’s increased travel is in line with many other states, especially ones still under stay-at-home orders.

“We can’t explicitly give a percentage of Californians going to Arizona, but what we can tell you is that, considering the spike in trips over 250 miles being taken by Californians, It’s a high likelihood that Arizona is catching some of that,” Clement said. “Their trips over 250 miles, which means San Diego, L.A., which get out to Arizona, are at the highest levels that we’ve seen since Valentine’s Day. It’s higher than what we saw in the weeks leading up to the pandemic, including Spring Break week. The bottom line is that if it’s open, people are going to come.”

One thing Arizonans themselves did better than any other state was hit the malls.

Arrivalist data showed growth in mall visits over Memorial Day weekend nationally, as well as a longer duration of stay. Arizona residents hit up malls and shopping centers last weekend at 61 percent of the state’s annual February traffic level. That’s ten percentage points higher than any other state. The seasonal nature of Arizona residents, Clement said, makes that figure even more significant.

“Visits to malls have more than doubled from the initial openings in early May, and while they are still at about 40 percent of pre-COVID levels, we see an increasing appetite from consumers to go out and shop,” Arrivalist Chief Revenue Officer Arlo Laitin said.

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