How Amazon Prime Day 2018 Impacted Foot Traffic to Brick and Mortar Retail Stores

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Amazon Prime Day

According to Amazon, Prime Day 2018  was its biggest shopping event yet with shoppers purchasing more than 100 million products online. And as in past years, other big brands also joined the ecommerce frenzy offering their own, competitive deals.

To assess whether Amazon Prime Day had a material impact on foot traffic to brick and mortar stores — especially compared to 2017 — we analyzed consumer attendance at 1400 retail chains for the two weeks prior and following July 16, 2018 (and compared it to 2017 data). In particular, we zoomed in on foot traffic to 13 major retail brands. Here’s what we found:

Foot traffic declined, especially among discount stores

Overall, foot traffic to brick and mortar stores ranged from 5-15 percent lower on Prime Day 2018 than the average daily attendance rates for the 15 days prior. The impact was most pronounced at the retailers where people usually head for deals and closeout sales: discount stores saw foot traffic drop by 11 percent this Prime Day, outlet malls dropped 10 percent and wholesale stores fell 14 percent. For example:

  • BJ’s Wholesale foot traffic dropped by 15 percent this year; in 2017, foot traffic fell 16 percent.
  • Kmart’s foot traffic was down 13 percent this year, compared to 6 percent on Prime Day 2017.
  • Lord and Taylor suffered a 12 percent decline on Prime Day this year, compared to just a 4 percent drop last year.
  • Foot traffic to Sears – a chain already in trouble — declined 10 percent, marginally better than its 11 percent decline on Prime Day 2017.
  • Walmart was also down 13.5 percent this year, compared to 11.5 percent in 2017.

Notably, Kohl’s appeared more immune this year, experiencing just a 6 percent drop in foot traffic on Prime Day, compared to last year’s 17 percent. This change can perhaps be attributed to the fact that Kohl’s now processes Amazon returns in-store.

Amazon Prime Day Attendances Chart

The Whole Foods effect

According to analyst firm Mintel, In the past, grocery retailers were free to sit Prime Day out because consumers weren’t thinking about buying their groceries online.”  Of course, Amazon’s August 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods changes everything and we were eager to see whether the special Prime Day in-store offers Amazon was promoting to Whole Food customers made any difference to their foot traffic.

Turns out, not so much.

Foot traffic to Whole Foods stores on Prime Day 2018 was actually down 2 percent compared to the average for the 15 days prior.

As a category, grocers and supermarkets experienced a little Prime Day blow-back with a 9 percent drop in foot traffic compared to the average for two weeks prior.  As the online grocery market heats up, this is definitely a trend to watch.

Amazon Prime Day Category Attendances Chart

Electronics gain on Prime Day — but not Best Buy

Traditionally, Prime Day has been about big savings on electronics and home entertainment, so we were surprised to note that in-store traffic to this category actually picked up this year, adding 5 percent over the average daily attendance rates for the two weeks prior. Perhaps standing in awe in front of a 72” flat screen 4K TV is something that really needs to be experienced in-person. That being said, traffic to Best Buy dipped by 8 percent on Prime Day.

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A return to normal

Are foot traffic changes on Prime Day a momentary blip? Our data shows that it recovers but also it’s worth noting that last year, daily attendance averaged 5 percent lower for the 15 days post Prime Day 2017 compared to the 15 days prior. This underscores that we’re seeing seasonality versus lasting impact of Prime Day sales – and that Back to School shopping has yet to kick-in in full force.

Amazon Prime Day Comparing Average Consumer Attendances Chart
Amazon Prime Day Comparing Average Consumer Attendances

Can’t touch this

There are some bright spots where Amazon’s Prime Day strategies had little impact.  One worth noting: book stores, especially given Amazon’s continued foray into the world of brick-and-mortar bookstores.

But who knows what next year will bring ….

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