After a dismal April and May, when casinos across the country were closed to visitors, Nevada’s casinos have been slowly recovering. But although many casinos on the strip are now open, foot traffic remains depressed - down 45% year over year in October to date. Around the country, the pace of recovery for the sector has varied significantly by state.
In our recent webinar, we spent some time looking into foot traffic trends at airports in America and Europe. Location data is a very reliable proxy for airline passengers, since there are few reasons to be at an airport other than to board a plane. Precise mapping can filter out people who have come to collect or drop off passengers from those who have passed security in order to catch a flight.
In a previous blog post we talked about how the home improvement sector has been one of the bright spots in the pandemic. Year-over-year foot traffic to building material retailers was up 26% in September.Given this trend, we wanted to look in more detail at one of the most popular companies in the home improvement sector - Ikea.
There’s no question that the retail sector has been hit hard this year. Foot traffic at Macy’s, which was already struggling prior to the pandemic, was down 64% last quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019. Like many of its peers, Macy’s has relied on its online business to bolster revenues during a period when many of its stores were closed.
Are you back in the office? It’s a question many of us find ourselves asking our friends and peers. The answer is, it depends. Each has their own comfort level, and it also depends largely on their role and their employer.
What does a COVID recovery look like for businesses? 6 months after the initial lock-down we know that, in the US, the journey has been remarkably different for different types of businesses. Our foot traffic indices capture trends that show just how varied the path has been. We looked at the percentage change in foot traffic for 5 different sectors during each month of this year.
Like many other sectors, the US car industry saw a sharp downturn in business when lock-down orders and business closures were at their peak in late March and April. Combined sales in April 2020 for the Big 3 US carmakers - GM, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler - were down 63% compared to the previous year according to GoodCarBadCar.net.
A recent article on Wall Street Journal by Peter Grant took an insightful look at how truck stops in the US have been boosted this year, in part due to the increase in demand for e-commerce and delivery. TravelCenters of America (NASDAQ: TA), the largest publicly listed operator of truck stops in the US, saw its share price increase 50% following its quarterly earning announcement in early August.
As we near the last stretch of the US summer season, we looked again at foot traffic data for US airports as one measure of the impact being felt by the travel industry. In our blog post on June 19th, we noted that traffic at US international hubs was severely depressed, with some regional hubs seeing a little more activity.
From the second week of February all four of the chains we analyzed saw a steep and prolonged fall in stock price through to the first week of April, when they began to rebound. Extended Stay America in particular has experienced a healthy share price recovery, with its stock back to only 10% below where it was in February, which is worse than S&P’s 0.9% gain but better than its competitors; Marriott’s share price is still 40% lower than it was pre-COVID and Hilton’s hovering around -30%.
The US faces a deep coronavirus crisis as new cases are surging to record highs in many states. Texas was one of the first states to reopen in May with restaurants, retail stores, malls and even theaters to allow to reopen at limited capacity. Looking at the mid-May data, the foot traffic in Texas at Advan’s consumer discretionary index was down about 35% compared to the pre-COVID era and kept increasing through mid-June, adding a 15% increase to -20%.
The RV market in the US looks like it may have found a new client base during the pandemic. As reported by the New York Times, companies like Cruise America, the largest RV rental company in the US, typically count on overseas visitors for about 40% of their bookings.
With COVID cases rising again in Southern and Western states, the Washington Post reported that many hospitals are under renewed strain, with beds being filled to capacity. In order to measure the true number of hospital admissions, we have developed an algorithm that can track overnight stays for any period of time (by excluding staff and visitors).
Big box stores such as CostCo and Sam's Club were early winners in the pandemic era as many of us stocked up in preparation for an anticipated period of lock-down. One clear winner during this period has been Amazon. Shelter in place orders have driven a spike in online shopping and the massive growth in employees at Amazon warehouses confirms the extent to which the retailer has benefited.
Measuring foot traffic at consumer discretionary businesses helps us understand the extent to which people are back to shopping for non-essentials - an indicator for increasing flexibility of movement and confidence in the outlook. During April and May there was a massive year-over-year drop in visits to non-essential locations. This make sense given most stores were closed. As you would expect, this trend was most pronounced in states such as Nevada and New York.
With restrictions lifted early in the state, and given its popularity as a vacation destination, hotel traffic has seen a steady rise since mid-April. As of the third week of June, traffic in Florida hotels was 43% below the start of the year. Though with case numbers rising again over the past several days we may see a reversal of the trend as we head into July.
Since Europe was locked down earlier than North America, it has also started opening up sooner. As a comparison, we looked first at foot traffic in European airports to see whether there are any early signs of a pick-up in visitors coming into the peak holiday period. Overall traffic remains fairly depressed, but there are some signs of growth, particularly in Greece, which depends heavily on tourism income.
Reviewing the data we can see that admissions in Texas and Florida are up on a year-over-year basis, indicating that state openings have had a material impact. Hospitals are feeling the strain, with admissions higher than they normally handle. New York by comparison is still 12% down year-over-year.
As one of the sectors hit hardest by the pandemic, hotels, resorts and leisure facilities are hoping that the summer may offer a recovery in the form of reduced case numbers and fewer cancelled vacations. A critical period for the industry, a bounce back in July and August could help mitigate some of the losses from the past few months. Our analysis of foot traffic, using our Hotel, Resort and Leisure Index, shows a very mixed picture across different states.
The approaching summer holiday period in the northern hemisphere is a critical time for the travel and hospitality sectors. With travel restrictions still in place, however, there remains a lot of uncertainty about what this summer will bring for companies that rely on tourism during this peak travel season.