Consumer Activity Analysis: How Foot Traffic is Impacting Select Categories

How Foot Traffic is Impacting Select Categories

Consumer foot traffic patterns continue to shift. Some categories, such as grocery stores, have recovered quickly while others, like malls, are recovering more slowly. These insights are important as companies continue to adjust their business practices and budgets in this emerging economy. Which categories show evidence of pent-up consumer demand? Which are beginning to stabilize? To answer these questions, we compared foot traffic for select categories between May and June, 2020 to see how each continues to change due to COVID-19.

Which Categories Saw the Largest Increase in Foot Traffic?

Category% Change (May-June)
Gambling & Games of Chance101%
Destination Resorts84%
Department Store72%
Indoor Entertainment / Amusement Park / Place70%
Outlet Mall62%
Gym / Fitness61%
Grill Restaurant53%
Comedy Clubs52%

In June, people became more comfortable with travel. The travel and hospitality industry saw significant changes in foot traffic, possibly due to consumers going on vacations once states lifted COVID-19 restrictions. Visitors again flocked to their favorite destination resorts: foot traffic to destination resorts was 84% higher in June than in May. In the entertainment category, indoor venues and amusement parks received 70% more foot traffic than in May.

Foot traffic to outlets and department stores was 62% and 72% higher in June, respectively, compared to May. These shopping categories saw significant changes in foot traffic after COVID-19 lockdowns eased and stores began to reopen. In June, consumers also went back to bars once coronavirus restrictions were lifted. Foot traffic to bars was 56% higher in June than in May.

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Which Categories Saw the Least Change in Foot Traffic?

Category% Change (May-June)
Auto Parts10%
Food Store10%
Fast Food Restaurant9%
Post Offices5%
Pharmacy & Medical Store4%
Box Store4%
Discount Store / Dollar Store3%
Hardware Store1%
Home Building, Improvement & Repair Supplies-3%

The food industry is almost back to pre-COVID-19 levels. Compared to May, foot traffic to food stores in June was 10% higher in June. Foot traffic at fast food restaurants, reliable go-tos as consumers continue to seek out delivery and drive-thru services, was 9% higher. Big box and discount stores didn’t see much change at all. Foot traffic at big box stores was only 3% higher while traffic at discount stores was 4% higher. Both reflect continued consumer interest in shopping at stores where prices are comparatively low.

The least impacted category was home building, improvement, and repair, most likely due to consumers having already improved their living spaces as they spent more time at home. Visits to home improvement stores remained strong but declined slightly–just 3%–between May and June

How will COVID-19 Impact Foot Traffic in July and August?

Based on current location data from our economic activity dashboards, we predict that foot traffic at home improvement and food stores will remain relatively flat in July and August. Consumers will continue to invest in upgrading their living spaces and shop for essentials, the category has largely recovered. With more people spending time outside, we predict the biggest increases in foot traffic will be related to outdoor entertainment. For the latest consumer trends, be sure to check out our economic activity by category dashboard.

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