Early Signs from Early Reopenings

Several states have begun reopening their economies and the wider retail ecosystem has been watching closely. While early returns have been mixed in states like Georgia, signs are beginning to appear that could give a strong indication of what path retail’s recovery could take.

We dug into data from key sectors in Georgia to analyze the potential lessons.

Georgia – Mass Merchandise

With many major malls and shopping centers staying closed, we focused on larger chains as these have the greatest capacity to provide a glimpse into wider national implications. Analyzing Walmart and Target shows that both brands are certainly taking a significant step forward towards normal visit patterns. Analyzing the period from January 1st, 2019 through April 27th, 2020, visits to Walmarts in Georgia were only 9.2% below the weekly baseline as opposed to three weeks from late March to mid-April when visits were around 20% below.

Target visits were still 29.4% below the baseline for the week that began April 20th, but even this was nearly 20% higher than visits just two weeks earlier. These increases point to a willingness to venture back out to shop.

Georgia – Fast Food

Another area that we expected to quickly return to form was the Fast Food sector, and here too, the signs were positive. Starbucks saw visits on April 26th that were 44.5% below the baseline, the strongest visit day since March 15th over a month earlier.

Chick-fil-A also continued its rebound with visits at 22.7% below the daily baseline for the period, the brand’s best day in Georgia since March 14th. And, the same pattern held true for McDonald’s who saw its strongest visit day since mid-March.

Georgia – Grocery

The same pattern continued into the Grocery sector, where Kroger and Publix saw visits shift up from their floor.

The Kicker – Nationwide Patterns Already Changing

Yet, and this may be the most important takeaway, traffic for national chains in Georgia followed the same patterns as nationwide trends. Kroger saw Georgia traffic flatten before seeing a minor jump in the week of the 20th and the same held true for nationwide visits to Kroger locations. 

Walmart saw visits reaching close to normal levels in Georgia, and the same held true for nationwide data. So, while much is being put into the loosening of restrictions, for brands considered essential retail the ‘opening up’ is already become a national trend.


The re-opening of the US economy is already happening. And while the lifting of state restrictions could impact some industries differently, the trend in essential retail is already showing a bounce back to normalcy. Will this see a more rapid change as more states open? Potentially. But, the key element to acknowledge is that the shift to ‘normalcy’ is already happening across the country.

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