Rising Foot Traffic at Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s Points to Growing Budget-Conscious Shopping Trends

September 19, 2023

Recent consumer trends strongly suggest that cost-conscious spending will remain a prominent theme throughout 2023. As the effects of high inflation continue to impact consumers, many of whom remain concerned about the nation’s economic state, we wondered if this is leading to an increase in foot traffic at value-driven grocery stores like Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s.

Is value-conscious shopping and buying in bulk taking precedence among consumers this year? To learn more, we examined foot traffic to a variety of food stores and wholesalers from Q2 2022 to Q2 2023.

Foot Traffic to Costco, Aldi, and More

We examined consumer foot traffic to Costco and its wholesale rival Sam’s Club, along with Aldi, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger, and Publix.

Year-over-year, Aldi saw the largest increase in foot traffic, with a 41% rise. Trader Joe’s also saw a significant increase of 29%. Additionally, Costco and Whole Foods saw growth, increasing 5% and 2%, respectively. On the other hand, foot traffic to Sam’s Club, Kroger, and Publix fell as the three brands ended Q2 2023 with a -3%, -7%, and -16% dip, respectively.

Over the past year, most of the analyzed brands, including Costco, Sam’s Club, Kroger, Publix, and Aldi, followed similar foot traffic trends. They each had a spike in Q4 2022, a dip in Q1 2023, and either remained flat or had minor rise in Q2 2023. But Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods saw unique trends, hinting at potential distinctions in the preferences of shoppers seeking healthier food options at these stores.

When breaking down the data by region, Aldi and Trader Joe’s were the only two brands analyzed that saw increased foot traffic all across the country—particularly in the western region. Costco, another top performer in our analysis, also saw increased foot traffic in the western region of the U.S., with decreased foot traffic primarily in the southern and midwestern regions. 

It appears that, for nearly all of the brands we analyzed, the steepest declines in foot traffic occurred mostly in the southern states. It’s possible that consumers in this region are gravitating toward even more budget-friendly options available at discount and dollar stores, which are highly concentrated in southern states.

Could budget-conscious shopping trends explain why brands like Aldi, Trader Joe’s, and Costco are seeing increased foot traffic overall?

Today’s Shopping Trends: Placing a Premium on Value

In Q1 of this year, we noticed an emerging trend of increased discretionary spending among consumers. However, are inflation and other economic concerns impacting consumers’ spending habits more in Q2 than they did in Q1?

Our foot traffic data does suggest that consumers are focusing on cost-conscious spending. Aldi and Trader Joe’s, known for their affordability, have seen remarkable foot traffic growth, likely due to their budget-friendly offerings. This trend also extends to Costco, which has managed to consistently attract and maintain consumer foot traffic. With its high-quality products, membership perks, and competitive prices, Costco is an appealing choice for consumers looking to maximize their value through bulk purchases. Given that 90% of Americans are worried about food costs this year, it makes sense that foot traffic to value-driven food stores like Costco, Aldi, and Trader Joe’s is on the rise.

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