Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Placer Bytes: First Watch and Staples

Shira Petrack
January 6, 2022
Placer Bytes: First Watch and Staples

In this Placer Bytes, we dive into First Watch, a rising star in the breakfast space, and Staples, a legacy brand that has been making a surprising comeback. 

First Watch’s Expansion Gamble is Paying Off 

Last winter, while the pandemic was still limiting the dining industry, First Watch was continuing with its expansion plans and opening new locations. And although the daytime restaurant concept’s year-over-two-year (Yo2Y) overall monthly visits were up – thanks to the brand’s aggressive expansion – Yo2Y average visits per venue were down by 21.6%, 22.6%, and 15.5% in January, February, and March, respectively, indicating that the brand was definitely feeling the effects of the drastic downturn in diners. Still, First Watch was playing the long game forged ahead undeterred. 

Now, it seems that the gamble has paid off. Since May, visits-per-venue numbers have reached, and often exceeded, pre-pandemic levels – an impressive feat, given the significantly larger number of venues now compared to 2019. And the return to pre-pandemic visits-per-venue numbers don’t just prove that First Watch’s new 2020 and 2021 locations are a success. Since the chain shows no sign of slowing down its expansion, the rise in visits-per-venue is a promising sign that planned locations will continue in step and thrive.

First Watch’s Wide Appeal

While Florida can boast at having the highest number of First Watch locations, the daytime cafe has expanded its reach across the country– and the local response has been overwhelmingly positive.

To see how First Watch has integrated into newer markets, we dove into the True Trade Area (in this case we took the area from which 70% of a property’s customers come from) of five First Watch restaurants in newer markets and compared the TTA in the second half of 2021 to the TTA in the second half of 2019. The data showed that all the locations analyzed show a 10% to 20% growth in TTA over the past two years. 

There’s often an initial excitement and upsurge in demand when brands enter new markets – but the interest can fade just as quickly if the company doesn’t do the work necessary to integrate into the new community. The fact that First Watch’s reach is expanding over time shows just how successful the brand has been at building and cementing its name in new markets.

The consistent growth in TTA for First Watch branches in states as diverse as Kansas, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Colorado, and Pennsylvania also shows that First Watch has hit on a dining concept with extremely broad appeal. As the company continues to add the locations – First Watch plans to expand to around 2200 locations in the future – up from its current apx. 420 – the daytime dining concept is well positioned to stake out a space at the top as a leading breakfast and lunch player nationwide. 

Is Staples Making a Comeback? 

While rising stars like First Watch are making a splash, some legacy brands are showing that they still have what it takes to compete with the younger players. After being largely written off, Staples appears to have made a surprising comeback in Q4 2021. 

The brand was particularly hard-hit by the Delta wave, which coincided with peak back-to-school shopping – traditionally Staples’s strongest period. Overall monthly changes in visits in October, November, and December 2021 were 0.0%, -1.0%, and 3.1% when compared to the same months in 2019 – which means that Staples foot traffic has essentially returned to its pre-pandemic levels. And this return to 2019  numbers is even more impressive given that the legacy office-supply brand has closed more than 100 stores since the start of the pandemic

Indeed, when looking at the Yo2Y change in visits-per-venue, the numbers look even better. Q4 visits-per-venue were up by 3.9%, 2.5%, and 6.6%, respectively – which could indicate that Staples has now right-sized its store fleet and found a way to optimize its offline reach .

Staples’ Regional Outliers

Staples was founded – and is currently headquartered in – Massachusetts, and it seems that customers in the Bay State, along with customers in Connecticut and Ohio, still maintain higher-than-average loyalties to the brand. While Staples’s Q4 foot traffic was high nationwide, visit growth was particularly large in the three states mentioned previously. In December, for example, when Staples nationwide Yo2Y foot traffic stood at 3.1%, Yo2Y visits in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Ohio were 7.8%, 13.6%, and 8.4% higher than they had been in 2019. The locations in these states also outperformed the brand’s national average in Q3.

This goes to show the importance for national brands to understand regional variations in foot traffic performance. A struggling brand with nationwide reach might benefit from closing stores in underperforming markets – but it can also use foot-traffic trends to identify regions with higher-than-average demand and loyalty and use this data to drive focussed and strategic growth. 

Will First Watch continue its ascent? Will Staples continue its comeback? 

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.
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike + lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season