Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Grocery Deep Dive

Maytal Cohen
June 8, 2021
Grocery Deep Dive

As one of the strongest performing retail sectors during the pandemic, the grocery sector showed exceptional offline strength by quickly adapting to a new pandemic-influenced reality. Yet, nearly halfway through 2021, it is increasingly clear the return to normalcy is in full swing, and with that, the need to adapt to a changing environment once again. To leverage last year’s surge and position themselves up for longer-term growth, grocers must understand which trends are here to stay and which are not.

In our latest Grocery Deep Dive whitepaper, we dove into the location data of leading grocers to uncover some of the key trends shaping the sector and the brands that are positioned for long-term success.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Shopping Time Preferences are Returning to ‘Normal’

One of the first big changes that grocers experienced with the outbreak of COVID was a shift in their customer’s preferred visiting day, a direct result of a massive change to work settings and routines. In Q2 of 2020, many shoppers transformed their weekend visits to weekday visits, with Sunday visits accounting for only 15.1% of all visits, nearly 3% less than their proportion in the previous quarter. Q3 and Q4 of 2020 showed a slight increase in Sunday visits which accounted for 16.3% of visits. But by Q1 of 2021, Sunday visits returned to become 17.8% of all visits, the same percentage it stood at in Q1 of 2020, pre-pandemic. A similar pattern could be seen with Saturday visits as well.  

This ‘normalization’ of behavior emphasizes the importance of routine - whether centered around work or school - to shopping preferences. While slight shifts in these routines could have major implications for grocery, the reality is that much of consumer decision-making is guided by the limitations presented by routine rather than true preference.

Traditional Grocers are Still Showing Strength

Q1 of 2021 was a difficult quarter across grocery brands, with many experiencing year-over-year declines driven by a combination of inclement weather, difficult year-over-year comparisons, and lingering pandemic concerns. Yet, despite these challenges, several leading traditional grocers like Publix and Aldi saw minimal year-over-year drops followed by strong April growth. In January, Publix and Aldi saw year-over-year growth in visits of 0.2% and 2.0%, while other non-traditional grocers like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart Neighborhood Market saw year-over-year declines in visits of 21.7%, 1.8% and 6.3%, respectively.  

A comparison to 2019 further emphasizes the unique strength of leading traditional grocers. Publix and Albertsons, marked growth compared to the equivalent months two years prior, throughout much of late 2020 and early 2021. This deepens the concept that the surge experienced by traditional grocers could spur a larger trend of ongoing success. 

Trade Areas Remain Smaller

The importance of store proximity was another interesting pandemic-driven shift in grocery shopping behavior. During the pandemic, shoppers proved to be less keen on traveling farther distances and preferred doing their shopping closer to home. The average trade area size of grocery stores shrunk accordingly. Interestingly, most leading grocers saw this trend continue into 2021, with yet another decrease in their average trade area size during the first quarter of the year. The average trade size had shrunk by 10.6% from 2019 to 2021 among the analyzed brands.

Although there could be several explanations for this trend’s continuation, from inclement weather during Q1 to the development of loyalty to closer options during the pandemic, it is undoubtedly a pattern that requires further tracking. With the percentage of hybrid omnichannel grocery shoppers growing and more grocery stores allocating part of their physical space as mini fulfillment centers and curbside pickup stations, changes in trade area size could have significant and wide-reaching implications.

Want to learn more about these trends and drill down into the foot-traffic performances of specific brands? Check out the full report here to see all of the insights and analysis.

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.
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & 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
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth