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January Fast Starts

Ethan Chernofsky
February 9, 2022
January Fast Starts

The start of any year is about optimism and a fundamental resolution to make the coming annum fundamentally better than the one that preceded it. And the same goes for retail, where the biggest names in the sector look to set the pace for the coming year.

However, beyond the standard challenges associated with retail success, 2022 kicked off with the added obstacles of a rising COVID variant, inclement weather, labor shortages, and continued supply chain and inflation issues. 

But even in this environment, several retailers and segments kicked off the new year with a bang.

Pets Lead the Way to Growth

One of the more publicized trends of the early pandemic period was the desire to warm up a homestead with a new pet. And while the excitement surrounding these new additions to the family may fade, the costs associated with keeping a pet happy and healthy do not. So it may not come as a surprise that Petco and PetSmart saw their respective visit numbers up 17.4% and 13.2% in January compared to the same month in 2020.

The consistent growth for this sector speaks to the ongoing boost retailers in the space are seeing from the pandemic-driven pet boom.

Value Retail Continues to Thrive

The combination of economic uncertainty and mission-driven shopping gave wholesale clubs like Costco and value-oriented retailers like Dollar General a significant boost in the early months of the pandemic. Add that to pre-existing retail strength and the combination has been particularly strong - and impressively consistent - for Costco and Dollar General. 

Costco saw January visits up 2.9% compared to the equivalent month in 2020. This followed growth of 12.9%, 4.6%, and 5.5% in October, November, and December compared to the same months in 2019, even as the Omicron wave surged. The clear takeaway is that the strength Costco gained through new memberships in 2020 should have a long-term positive effect on the retailer’s visits and offline success in the year to come.

Dollar General saw an equally impressive start to 2022, with visits up over 20% compared to January 2020 – continuing the brand’s strong offline performance of late. While much of this is being driven by an aggressive expansion push, the consistency of the visit increases points to the strategy behind the offline growth plan and the likelihood it will continue to pay off long-term.

Mattress Firm’s Well-Timed Rise

Ahead of its anticipated IPO, Mattress Firm has posted an impressive streak of visits growth over the last year. After seeing monthly visits down in February 2021 compared to the equivalent month in 2019, the rest of 2021 saw visits up significantly compared to the same months two years prior. And January kicked off with a continuation of that trend, with visits up 6.9% compared to January 2020.

The wider migration shift to the suburbs alongside a greater focus on home upgrades appears to be driving an extended wave of strength for the retailer. Should this trend continue, it could mark an even greater trajectory for this impressive retail turnaround.

Will January’s fast starts continue to thrive deeper into 2022?

Visit to find out.

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