Checking In With 2021’s Retail IPOs – Joann and First Watch

Rainbow color sewing treads and scissors on the pink pastel background

Despite the COVID and supply chain challenges of 2021, several major retailers chose to go public last year. We looked at some of the companies – including Warby Parker, Arhaus, Allbirds, and Dutch Bros. – in our Top 10 Retail Brands to Watch white paper. Here, we dive into two more recently public brands – Joann and First Watch – to see how they finished off 2021 and where they stand in 2022. 


Joann (previous Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts), which went public in March 2021, was a major beneficiary of the pandemic crafting boom. According to the company’s SEC filing, Joann gained 8 million new customers between February 2020 and February 2021, many of whom initially visited stores to purchase fabric for homemade masks and subsequently expanded their shopping behavior across the brand’s diversified merchandise categories. The company also estimated that up to a quarter of its customers are semi-professional crafters, who buy supplies at Joann to produce handmade goods that are then resold on online marketplaces such as Etsy or Shopify – a segment that may grow should “The Great Resignation” continue. 

Foot traffic data from 2021 shows that Jonann is successfully holding on to its pandemic gains. Except for a slight 1.9% Year-over-Two-Year (Yo2Y) dip in September – likely due to the spread of the Delta variant – monthly visits have exceeded or remained consistent with 2019 visit levels all year. And Joann finished the year with a 6.3% Yo2Y increase in December foot traffic. 

The company has also invested in its omnichannel capacities – launched an international e-commerce expansion, and announced a strategic partnership with sewing machine leader,

Singer. So far, it looks like Joann’s efforts to build its brand and spread its reach are continuing to pay off in 2022. The craft and sewing supplies retailer started off the year strong, with Yo2Y almost every week for the first seven weeks of the year. 

First Watch

First Watch went public in October 2021, following almost a year of accelerated growth and store fleet expansion. The chain operates on a model that is radically different from other breakfast providers. While some diner brands, such IHOP, Waffle House, and Denny’s are open late into the night brands – or even 24 hours a day – First Watch brands itself as a daytime cafe and closes its locations at 2:30 PM every day. And although mid-day visits have been down across the dining sector – including at McDonald’s – the emphasis on mid-day visits does not seem to have hurt First Watch’s performance. 

First Watch’s visits have been up every month in Q3 and Q4, and the brand also reported increases in same-store sales and traffic growth. Our own data shows that First Watch has succeeded in maintaining consistent visits-per-venue levels despite operating more stores, which means that the new stores have successfully integrated into their respective communities and built a solid consumer base.

Recent data indicates that First Watch’s ascent is set to continue in 2022. Yo2Y visits were up every week this year, with visits the week of Valentine’s day up almost 10% compared to 2019. As the brand continues to expand its store fleet, expect an even brighter future for this newly public dining chain.

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