Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

2021 Fast Starts

Ethan Chernofsky
February 9, 2021
2021 Fast Starts

2020 was certainly not the greatest year ever for offline retail, but its effects may already be driving strength for some brands in 2021. While this year will hopefully be marked by a strong recovery amid COVID’s declining effects, some brands are already showing clear strength.

Which retailers have had some of the fastest starts to 2021? We looked at the data to find out.

The Fast Start

To properly contextualize the fast starts we looked not only at their January visit numbers year over year, but also compared these metrics to the average year-over-year visit gap in the second half of 2020. And that context is critical. Target saw only a minor increase in visits of 0.6% year over year in January. Yet, considering it had seen an 1.5% overall decline in the second half of 2020, and considering how strong the brand was while experiencing those declines, the return to year-over-year visit increases could symbolize even greater potential in the new year. Simply put, there may not be another brand as impervious to wider circumstances as Target, who seems to just be getting stronger. 

Best Buy also saw a rapid turn to growth with visits up 1.5% year over year in January after being hit hard in 2020. The brand was seeing a strong recovery as COVID cases surged just as the critical holiday season was heading into Black Friday, normally the clear peak for the brand’s annual visits. But Best Buy’s ability to mitigate the losses of the holiday season and then already return to visit growth in January is a huge testament to its ability to adapt even in these challenging circumstances. 

Michaels is another interesting case of a DIY brand in an excellent sector that seemed poised for stronger results than it actually had. After seeing a return to year-over-year visit growth in August 2020, the brand saw an average monthly visit gap of 7.0% the rest of the year. But January 2021 was a return to strength with visits up 2.1% for the brand indicating the potential for a strong year.

Context for Ulta

While other players in the beauty space have been hit especially hard in offline visits, Ulta has managed to stay in a relatively strong position. The brand saw visits rise throughout the recovery period with the year-over-year visit gap dropping to just 7.2% in December. This makes the start to January, with visits down just 5.5% year over year, all the more significant as it shows the brand’s powerful ability to sustain this momentum even amid rapidly changing circumstances. With a partnership with Target announced last year set to drive new opportunities, there may not be a better positioned retail brand than Ulta.

Big Things Coming for TJX

It’s one thing to have one of 2021’s fastest retail starters sitting within your wider portfolio, but to have two seems unfair. TJX’s brands, known for their off-price orientation, are among the best positioned in retail because of their unique ability to provide value in this period of economic uncertainty.

Yet, the true potential may be in its wider reach. While HomeGoods is providing high-value goods in the booming home furnishings sector, T.J. Maxx is driving its impact in a hard hit apparel space. 

The ability of HomeGoods to tap into two of the biggest trends driving the wider retail space - a focus on high value and home furnishings - drove visits up 25.2% year over year in January. This is an astounding number that surpassed the strength the brand has already shown in late 2020. But T.J. Maxx’s January may have been even more impressive considering the hit the wider apparel sector has taken. Visits for the chain were up 1.5% in January, the first time they had seen year-over-year visit growth since the pandemic began and a massive turnaround in the year over year visit gap when compared to Q4. 

Will these fast starters sustain the pace deeper into 2021? Visit to find out.

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Pent-Up Demand Ahead of October Sales Events
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023 Office Index: August 2023 Recap Mall Index: August 2023 Recap White Paper Recap: August 2023
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Strikes Again
Big Scoop: We All Scream For Ice Cream
Sports Away: Lululemon & Nike’s Momentum Continues
Summer Visits Heat Up For Recreation and Outdoor Gear Chains
No CSS overwrite - July 2023 Office Index Recap
Staging - August 2023 Mall Indec
Mid-Atlantic Grocery Deep Dive
Experiential Chains Heating Up This Summer
Petco Goes Big by Going Small
Ulta Beauty: Leading the Discretionary Pack
Discount and Dollar Chains Continue to Thrive
Summer of Sports: DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports
Off-Price: Succeeding Into Summer
The Anchor Recap: July 2023
Superstores Maintaining Pandemic Gains Amidst Economic Headwinds
2023: Home Improvement at the Halfway Point
July 2023 Office Index Recap Mall Index: July 2023 Recap
widget test
The Taylor Swift Visit Lift
Southwestern Grocery Dive
July 2023 White Paper Recap: Halfway Point Review & Quarterly Index
Yum! Brands: Driving Dining Visits
Slurpees and Summer Movies Stimulate Consumer Foot Traffic
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update
Checking In on Back to School 2023
Crocs and New Balance Tip The Scales
Burger Bliss: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Stacking Visits
Chipotle & McDonald's Continue to Reign Supreme
Vibenomics and Partner to Enhance Retail Media In-Store Measurement
California Grocers Here We Come!
Marriott’s Different Audiences
Bonchon and Kura Sushi Thrive in the Fast-Casual Scene
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail Office Index: June 2023 Recap Mall Index June 2023 Recap – A Turn of the Tide and a Dive into Open-Air Lifestyle Centers
Local Kitchens: Redefining the Restaurant
Unlocking Urban Insights: The Value in Manhattan’s Employees
Ohio State Parks On The Rise
How is Inflation Impacting the High-Income Shoppers?
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains
What To Expect From Prime Day and July Sales Events in 2023
The State Of Fashion: How Are Apparel Retailers Faring in 2023?
2023’s Latest Dining Success Story: GEN Korean BBQ House
The NBA Finals: A Location Intelligence Perspective
Moving the Market: The Impact of Domestic Migration on Housing Costs
Post-Pandemic Museum Update
The Darden-est Things
The Enduring Demand for Urban and Suburban Retail
Leveraging Data to Evaluate the Impact of Municipal Investments
Trader Joe's Success Amidst Food Inflation and Changing Consumer Behavior Office Index: May 2023 Recap
Fitness at its Fittest: Staying Strong in 2023
Movie Theaters, Off-Price, and Home Improvement: May 2023 Recap Mall Index - May 2023 Recap
What’s Working for Bath & Body Works?
Why Are Specialty Grocers Thriving in 2023?
The CAVA Craze: A Location Intelligence Perspective on the Mediterranean Marvel
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap