Q4 2022 Consumer Trends Report: Are Consumers Still Seeking Out Services?

March 16, 2023

In our recent Q4 2022 Consumer Trends Report, we analyzed consumer foot traffic to shopping destinations, restaurants, and many other industry-specific place categories. From Q4 2021 to Q4 2022, Americans began seeking affordability as they felt the pressures of economic uncertainty following the pandemic. So what about services? Services is a broad place category, but these businesses all have one thing in common: they often require in-person visits. Some service-providing businesses aren’t affordable necessities, like beauty salons, while others are more affordable and essential, like post offices. So, are people visiting libraries, beauty salons, post offices, and other service-based businesses, or has there been a shift?

Young woman reaches for a book on a library shelf

Foot Traffic Analysis – Services

To learn more about recent consumer foot traffic to service destinations, we analyzed data from a variety of service industries from Q4 2021 to Q4 2022.

Overall, visits to services were down 6% year-over-year. The only categories that saw increased foot traffic growth were housing services, gas stations, and post offices. Post offices saw the greatest increase in foot traffic at 24% year-over-year.

Conversely, all other categories of services experienced decreases in year-over-year foot traffic. Non-essential services like gyms and event facilities saw some of the steepest decreases. Appearance and beauty services, which are often costly, recurring purchases, saw a decrease of 22%. Americans have been consuming with an essentials-first mindset lately, often seeking the best deals and value they can find. Because of this, it’s no surprise that appearance and beauty has been seeing a decrease in foot traffic in all major cities except for in a few well-known tourist destinations, including Orlando, Honolulu, Tucson, and Las Vegas.

Aside from the more luxurious end of the services spectrum, there is one service that is essential for communities and is completely free: libraries. Over the last year, libraries experienced the greatest decrease in year-over-year foot traffic at a 32% decline. This free service favors recent consumer spending habits, but isn’t seeing growth in visitors. So, in a time when people are looking to spend less on more, why are libraries seeing less and less visitors these days?

Why Aren’t More People Visiting Libraries?

Based on our data, library visits are on a decline, and there may be a couple of reasons for that.

First, younger generations are reading less and less. Reading is becoming an extinct hobby in America’s youngest minds. In fact, in the last couple of years, the number of children who read every day dropped lower than it has in over 20 years. In schools, reading proficiency levels are at historic lows, likely fueling the shift away from reading and libraries. And finally, half of the adults in the U.S. haven’t read a book in the last year, with younger generations reading about half as much as older generations.

Not only are reading levels hitting meager lows, but people may be visiting libraries less because of the digitization of books. Libraries are seeing less foot traffic, but they currently have more registered borrowers than ever. Library collections are increasingly more digital, and they are growing larger than they ever have. So, Americans are reading less, and they’re visiting public libraries less, but they’re remaining registered to borrow books. This is likely due to the appeal that comes with digital reading options.

Visiting Libraries in 2023

As society’s needs evolve, libraries must evolve for the continued use of their spaces and resources. In 2023, libraries may be innovating the spaces and offerings they provide in hopes of attracting more visitors.

For example, we may see libraries emphasizing digital technology more and more. Library spaces will likely become largely equipped with voice recognition technology helping patrons find what they’re looking for easier. Also, more libraries may begin offering public access to 3D printing, virtual reality, and augmented reality technology. Moreover, library spaces are likely to begin catering to new generations of workers who need available spaces to work remotely.

As fewer people emphasize reading in the traditional sense, libraries still have the opportunity to continue being an accessible resource to our evolving society. This year, people visiting libraries could have the chance to take advantage of newly innovated spaces and technology, making their experience more relatable and up-to-date. This means that as society continues to grapple with economic uncertainty, libraries’ free services could grow in popularity in 2023.

For more insight into current consumer trends across a variety of place categories and brands, download the full Q4 2022 Consumer Trends Report today.

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