Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

A Look Back at Back To School 2022

Ethan Chernofsky
September 8, 2022
A Look Back at Back To School 2022

Back to School 2022 brought significant pressure to retail. 

There was a real impression that the post-pandemic environment’s first true retail season could provide a needed boost for chains across the sector. Yet, the onslaught of economic headwinds presented a uniquely difficult scenario that proved to be a formidable challenge for brick-and-mortar retail visits.

But the season was not all struggles and, in fact, presented hope that the coming months could already be providing a needed shift.

Back to School 2022

Superstores, grocery, and discount chains were among the strongest performers throughout the pandemic with monthly visits in 2022 regularly higher than both 2021 and a pre-pandemic 2019. However, the unique impact of continued inflation, high gas prices, and a comparison to an especially strong Back-to-School season in 2021 proved to be challenging. Visits for all categories were down year-over-year (YoY) in August with the discount & dollar segment seeing its first such decline in 2022. 

Yet, August also showed indications that a turnaround could be en route. While fitness visits continued to outperform, the home improvement, full-service restaurant, and apparel categories all saw important steps forward. The three segments saw their (YoY) visit gaps decline by 1.5%, 2.0%, and 1.7% respectively. Critically, this could be the first sign that discretionary spending –  one of the elements of retail most heavily impacted by inflation – could be on the road to recovery.

And even for those segments that were hit hard in August, context is critical. While superstores, grocery, and discount & dollar all saw YoY visit declines, the three categories also saw increases when compared to the same month in 2019. This shows that while economic headwinds limited the ability to match the high standards of the 2021 Back-to-School season, these segments are still benefiting from the pandemic boosts they received. It’s also important to remember that consumer behavior has already shown the ability to adapt to these changing circumstances. As an example, while visit numbers may decline because of the cost of travel increases, the basket size may increase – a return of the mission-driven shopping trend already experienced by Target and Walmart this summer.

Even more, in many of these cases, analyzing weekly visits shows that the YoY visit gaps already began shrinking towards the end of August. Part of this is attributable to the comparison to the onset of the Delta variant in 2021, but the timing and consistency show that the recovery runs far deeper. The shrinking YoY visit gaps indicate that the lingering impacts of inflation and high gas prices appear to be tailing off. 

This comes into even greater view when looking at specific retail chains that were heavily impacted by this unique economic environment. Best Buy, Kohl’s and Old Navy were all especially hard hit by the aforementioned economic headwinds, yet all three are seeing a significant recovery. YoY visit gaps shrunk consistently for all three brands, enabling them to end the summer in a far stronger position than they began it. 

Should this trend continue, it could time out to provide the wider brick-and-mortar retail landscape, and non-essential retail spending in particular, a needed jolt heading into the holiday season.

Will the retail recovery continue into September? 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.
Text Link
Back To School
Text Link
Text Link
Discount & Dollar Stores
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
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?