Growth Continues for Retail Giants in 2021

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In our latest whitepaper, we analyzed retail giants, their pandemic performance, and their year so far. We looked at the sector leaders and dove into different superstore categories to explore the latest trends, see where competition was heating up, and understand whose dominance remains unchallenged. 

Below is a taste of what we’ve found – the full report can be downloaded here.

Retail Giants Largely Strengthened by the Pandemic

Costco, Target, and Walmart are three of retail’s most important and impressive players. And while Walmart is by far the biggest of the three—both in terms of numbers of stores and monthly visits—it is also facing the stiffest increase in competition. And this competition might be starting to take a toll. While Costco and Target have seen visits return to consistent growth, Walmart’s offline visits have been slower to recover with the giant yet to completely close the visit gap.  

The Rise of the Discount Superstores 

Discount superstores performed well throughout COVID, and monthly visits are continuing to rise—but not for everyone. Five Below, Dollar General, and Big Lots are seeing huge increases in monthly visits compared to 2019, and this could be impacting Walmart visits.

Some of Walmart’s numbers can be explained through the retailer’s success in leveraging lingering mission-driven shopping, building its online presence and perfecting its delivery and curb-side pickup options. But,the data also indicates that the discount superstore space is getting a little more crowded.

Walmart is far from resting on its laurels – it uses its massive size to invest in strategies that few other retailers could undertake, such as creating a private brand of insulin. And although Walmart has seen an overall decline in visits, it still leads the way in terms of customer loyalty. The upcoming Back-to-School season could see Walmart leverage these strengths to return to visit growth when compared to 2019 levels.

Wholesale Retailers Enjoying a Larger Pie

Although Costco still leads the wholesale subsector, other wholesale retailers are thriving as well. Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale Club all saw increases in monthly visits over the pandemic as shoppers looked to buy in bulk and minimize trips to the store. 

And even though quarantines and lockdowns almost feel like a thing of the past, visits to wholesalers continue to increase in 2021 relative to pre-pandemic numbers. Since all three wholesalers offer membership on a yearly basis, the rise in visits could be attributed to shoppers who bought pandemic-motivated memberships and want to keep getting their money’s worth. In the next couple of months, as more memberships purchased during COVID are up for renewal, we will know whether the wholesale surge is here to stay. 

Will Costco continue to rule the wholesale category? Will the discount superstore competition heat up? 

Visit Placer.ai to find out.

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