August’s white papers looked at the recent performance of retail giants Walmart, Target, and Costco; explored the c-store space; dove into the Manhattan office recovery; and analyzed the continued success of the off-price apparel industry. Below is a taste of our findings. For the full reports, visit our library.
Although Costco and Target saw greater YoY growth in H1 2023, Walmart remains the largest retailer in the United States and the undisputed leader of the superstore sector, with the brand receiving the majority of superstore visits in H1 2023. But looking at visit share data from the past few years indicates that small but meaningful shifts have taken place, with Costco, Target, and Discount & Dollar Stores all seeing their visit shares grow – in large part thanks to store fleet expansions. Meanwhile, Walmart – which condensed its store fleet in regent years – saw its visit share shrink between H1 2019 and H1 2023.
Despite the shifts, Walmart remains the undisputed leader of the superstore segment. Still, the continued expansion of Target, Costco, and Discount & Dollar Stores may indicate a move towards a similar approach of brick-and-mortar ubiquity – and reveals the value that national retail chains continue to place on physical stores in 2023.
Unlike major superstores, most convenience store chains are a highly localized affair. Although 7-Eleven remains America’s largest convenience store chain – boasting nearly 9,500 venues across 38 states and territories – the c-store landscape is a varied one, with visit share distributed among several leading brands. Every region of the country seems to have its favorite go-to mini-mart, from Casey’s in the Midwest to Buc-ee’s in Texas.
To identify the most popular c-stores in different regions of the country, we analyzed the statewide visit shares of leading chains during the first half of 2023. On the West Coast, as well as in Hawaii, New York, Colorado, Nevada, and Washington, D.C., 7-Eleven reigns supreme – while Speedway, also owned by 7-Eleven, prevails in Alaska and in parts of the Midwest. But in Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah, Maverik – a brand that has positioned itself as a prime destination for people engaged in outdoor activities – has emerged as the local favorite. New England, for its part, is Cumberland Farms country, and in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and New Jersey, people can’t get enough of their local Wawa. Several other chains, including Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Sheetz, Circle K, and others, top statewide visit rankings nationwide.
The regional variety within the c-store landscape highlights the potential for smaller brands in the space to find their niche and dominate their local market.
During COVID, people who could afford to do so stayed away from crowded public transportation hubs. New York City subway usage dropped, and although a subway recovery is underway, ridership has yet to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels.
The overall drop in worker visits to the city since 2019 is likely a key driver of the continued decline in public transit use. But an analysis of cross-visitation patterns between workplaces and two of Manhattan’s largest public transportation hubs shows that many of those commuters that are coming into the city are back to taking the train.
The past few years have been good to the off-price sector – and consumer behavior indicates that shoppers can’t get enough of the treasure-hunt experience. Between H1 2022 and H1 2023, the share of cross-shopping between the various off-price leaders increased, as shoppers at Ross, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, and Burlington visited more than one off-price leader more frequently.
Shopping at an off-price apparel store can be hit or miss, and different chains – even different stores within the same chain – may have very different inventories during the same period. The traffic data indicates that off-price shoppers seem determined to unearth the best bargains, even if it means visiting multiple retailers to find the perfect product at the most attractive price.
The rise in the rates of visitors visiting more than one off-price chain may also stem from some of the chains’ limited online presence, which means that consumers wanting to shop the latest bargains need to visit the physical store. And the cross-shopping data indicates that shoppers are ready and willing to make a real-life trip to these brands’ brick-and-mortar outlets and compare prices and products in person in the hopes of finding a particularly valuable offer.
For the full reports and additional analysis from the Placer.ai team, visit placer.ai/library.