When we last looked into liquor store visits, foot traffic to the sector was significantly higher than it had been in 2019. A couple of months later, it looks like visits to alcohol retailers are still booming. Although the country is mostly reopened and the wider retail economy is on the rise, liquor store visits are still significantly higher than 2019 levels. Analyzing visits to three regional chains (BevMo! on the West Coast and Arizona, Spec’s in Texas, and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits in Florida) and to one national chain (Total Wine & More) reveals that retail alcohol sales are still surging.
When we last looked at the Wholesale Club sector, the leading players were all showing strength ahead of the wider retail reopening. Yet, the strength in grocery alongside rising visits in restaurants created the potential for the sector’s top chains to see lower peaks in the summer. We dove into the data to see how the summer treated these brands. Earlier in the year, we noted that Costco visit data was indicating that while the brand was seeing lower overall visits, the actual number of unique visitors was rising.
In our Quarterly Index, we noted that the pent-up consumer demand for home furnishings gave many home goods chains a visit boost in Q2 2021 – but some brands, like Bed Bath & Beyond and Tuesday Morning, were still struggling. With Q3 almost behind us, we dove into the foot traffic data to uncover the summer recovery trajectory of these two brands. While brands like Home Goods and At Home have succeeded in tapping into the emergence of home nesting – July visits were up 28.6% and 16.9%, respectively
The summer brought positive signs for retail brands across the country with the big box giants, malls and even department stores seeing a needed boost. But with August in the rearview mirror, how much did the summer really contribute to the retail recovery? July and August brought a clear shift in consumer foot traffic, pushing many retail leaders back to positions of growth. Walmart saw visits up 2.9% and 3.9% in July and August when compared to the same months in 2019 – an especially impressive achievement considering the heights hit during that season.
In this Placer Bytes, we dive into the recoveries of GameStop, Dave & Buster’s and AMC to gather insights on experiential retail and retail’s recovery overall. The wave of excitement surrounding GameStop’s stock had little to do with the retailer’s offline performance, but it does appear that the buzz is working in the brand’s favor. Comparing weekly visits to 2019 since the start of the year reveals a steady and consistent reduction in the visit gap. And while the initial rush of retail reopenings in March drove a short spurt of comparative growth
It’s difficult to properly contextualize the overwhelming power of the Pumpkin Spice Latte and the excitement it generates. In 2019, and then again last summer in a season heavily affected by COVID, the drink consistently managed to drive significant visits to Starbucks locations nationwide. And the push is incredibly strategic as it helps to herald in the coffee giant’s fall and winter strength after months of spring and summer. But could the launch deliver yet again?
In the midst of rising concerns among retailers over a COVID resurgence and a critical Back-to-School season, we dove into Gap Inc. and Lululemon’s foot traffic to find out how these apparel leaders are faring amidst the uncertainty. Gap Inc. had a mixed experience over the pandemic, with some of its iconic brands taking a hit while others flourished. In October 2020, the company unveiled the “Power Plan 2023” – a strategy involving reducing the Gap and Banana Republic store count in North America to 870 by the end of fiscal 2023
The events of the past year and a half have highlighted existing regional disparities – and created some new ones – as a result of the differences in virus spread, regulatory decisions, and calendars reopening. But because of how retail data is usually presented, the variance in the pace of economic recovery between different locales can sometimes be hard to spot. Indeed, most stakeholders in the future of brick and mortar retail – retailers, CRE professionals, CPG executives, and financial analysis – stay up to date on their sectors of interest by tracking the performance of specific brands or categories.
As the pandemic’s retail impact was initially being felt, there were some retailers and segments that were better positioned than others, and some that actually looked better positioned than ever. Home Improvement leaders not only saw the benefit of strong alignment with key trends, but essential retail status early in the pandemic provided a unique opportunity for exceptional growth. Grocery and off-price retail were well-positioned sectors that managed to take full advantage of this opportunity.
If the chicken wars of summer 2019 taught us anything, it’s that a healthy chicken sandwich obsession is warranted. The rise experienced by Popeyes was so significant that it catapulted the chain into visit levels that reset the standard for the brand. So, using the launch of Popeyes’s new chicken nugget offering as an excuse, we dove back into the data from some of the chicken wars’ primary protagonists.
The travel industry was one of the hardest hit over COVID, but foot traffic trends indicate that the sector has been gradually rebounding since the beginning of the year. With August in full swing, we dove into the data for some of the nation’s major hotels chains and airports to get a sense of where the travel recovery stands today. Air travel is still very much complicated by COVID, with safety precautions still causing flying to be much more burdensome than it was pre-pandemic.
When we last dove into top beauty brands back in May, the sector was on its way to a full recovery as shoppers ventured out for the first time in over a year and began investing in beauty supplies once again. Now, it seems like the brick and mortar cosmetic chains are positively on fire, with visits to all retailers analyzed skyrocketing in recent months. And while the year-over-two-year foot traffic trends for April through June have been very strong, the growth in July visits was truly exceptional.
Dollar and discount superstores thrived over the pandemic, and foot traffic analytics indicate that the category leaders are not slowing down just yet. Five Below, unlike many of the other discount superstores, carries neither food nor groceries and was not open as an essential business in the early days of the pandemic. But the brand is more than making up for lost time now, with monthly visits up 32.7%, 36.9%, 25,7%, and 35.2% in April, May, June, and July, respectively, compared to the equivalent months in 2019.
The grocery sector has witnessed a uniquely fascinating period with early COVID concerns driving huge traffic surges to supermarkets, while the recovery period has seen uneven returns for different brands. And the questions are growing. Can the sector turn it’s COVID status into long term strength? Will the rising excitement around restaurants cut into their success? We dove into the latest grocery data to find out.
In this Placer Bytes, we dive into two of retail’s strongest players – Dick’s Sporting Goods and Best Buy. While the company’s push into experiential deserves it’s own post, it was clearly the mark of a brand operating from a position of strength. Dick’s Sporting Goods has seen visit growth in all but one month thus far in 2021 when compared to the equivalent months in 2019. March and April saw the biggest jumps of 4.2% and 16.7% respectively, largely driven by the wider retail reopening and pent-up demand.
The off-price apparel category is experiencing an impressive recovery, with off-price visits regularly outperforming the wider apparel recovery rate. With the Back to School season coming up, Off-price’s strong summer could lead into an even stronger fall. With the exception of February, where lower visit numbers could be due to severe weather conditions across the country, visits to Ross Dress for Less, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington have been up every month this year when compared to 2019.
Our latest white paper looks at the indoor and outdoor mall recovery. We chose a representative sample of 100 top performing indoor malls and 100 outdoor shopping centers from across the United States to see how a year of movement and gathering restrictions have affected visit and consumer behavior patterns. We made some adjustments to how we gathered the data to make sure our analysis was based on the most accurate and up-to-date numbers available.
The home improvement sector thrived during the pandemic – and at first glance, that run seemed to be over. Critically, this was less an indictment on the success of the sector’s leaders than a testament to the heights reached during the pandemic. So how has the summer treated the sector? While Tractor Supply continued its impressive growth streak – with visits in July up a whopping 29.7% compared to July 2020 – year-over-year foot traffic at Home Depot and Lowe’s has been down over the last three months.
In the latest sign of their Brick-and-Mortar retail dominance, both Walmart and Target appear to be headed into an exceptionally strong Back-to-School season. Both Walmart and Target were positioned relatively well during the early pandemic restrictions because of their essential retail status. And they both proved equally well positioned for the mission-driven shopping trend that privileged their one-stop-shop orientation, leading to a recovery period that showed comparable strength.
The pandemic has been tough for department stores. Brands that were already struggling to adapt to the role of e-commerce and changing consumer preferences were pushed over the edge, while other department stores were forced to shed stores to stay in the game. Neiman Marcus, JCPenney, and Lord & Taylor filed for bankruptcy, joining their peers Sears and Barney’s New York that had filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Macy’s and Nordstrom announced plans to permanently shutter several locations in an attempt to optimize their store fleet.