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How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
March 26, 2024
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?

JOANN recently announced that it had filed for bankruptcy, and the company expects to go private as early as next month. Can the retailer still make a comeback? We dove into the data to find out. 

JOANN’s Rollercoaster Trajectory Since 2019

JOANN went public in March 2021 – at the height of the pandemic – following a particularly strong 2020. The COVID-era crafting boom had put the company on a growth trajectory, with visits during the first year of the pandemic barely lower than in 2019 despite the lockdowns and movement restrictions. But as the country reopened and people’s schedules filled back up – leaving less time for sewing and knitting – visits began to fall. Foot traffic in 2021 was lower than in 2020, and by 2022, overall visits to the chain were 11.8% lower than they had been in 2019

But now, recent foot traffic data indicates that demand for fabric-related crafting supplies may be rebounding. In 2023, visits to the chain grew relative to 2022 and the visit gap relative to 2019 narrowed. Sewing appears to be making a comeback, with both millennials and Gen-Z exhibiting a newfound interest in the craft. And although the resurgence of interest in fiber arts was not strong enough to prevent JOANN’s recent bankruptcy filing, the YoY visit growth in 2023 indicates that the company should not be written off just yet. 

JOANN is Pulling Ahead of the Competition 

According to C.F.O. Scott Sekella, 95% of JOANN’s stores are cash-flow positive. The company is also committed to maintaining usual operations during the court-supervised procedure. And this year as well – especially since the end of early 2024’s cold spell – JOANN’s year-over-year (YoY) visits have trended positive, even outperforming YoY foot traffic to other leading crafting retailers. 

Focusing on Growth Dayparts May Help JOANN Optimize In-Store Operations

The unique nature of JOANN’s products give the company’s brick-and-mortar stores an advantage over digital counterparts: Crafters like to get a feel for the material before purchasing, and amateur DIY-ers who visit physical stores can consult with expert salespeople to receive guidance for ongoing projects. And although foot traffic to JOANN’s stores is not what it was at the height of the pandemic, the YoY visit growth in 2023 indicates that the brand is still serving many committed sewers and knitters who are choosing to shop in-person. So how can JOANN maintain its store fleet while optimizing in-store operations? 

Analyzing the change in hourly visits between 2022 and 2023 reveals that the YoY growth is not evenly distributed across dayparts. Morning and early afternoon visits saw modest increases, but traffic growth really ramped up in the afternoon and evening – peaking between 6:00 and 6:59 PM – and visits actually decreased between 7:00 and 8:59 PM. Should the company try to streamline its logistics without sacrificing its large store fleet, JOANN may focus its staffing and operational costs on the dayparts with the most growth potential and reduce expenditure during the less popular timeslots. 

JOANN Well-Positioned To Thrive Post-Bankruptcy 

Despite the crafting retailer’s current rough patch, location intelligence suggests that the company is a strong contender for a post-bankruptcy comeback. And the positive YoY trends also indicate that – despite the ongoing headwinds and contraction in discretionary spending – there is still demand for hobby-driven retail in 2024. 

How will the bankruptcy proceedings impact foot traffic to JOANN? What does the rest of 2024 hold for the brand? 

Check in with our blog at placer.ai to find out. 

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

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