Placer Bites: Boot Barn Expands, Starbucks Cold Brew

We’ve become accustomed to news about retailers closing their brick-and-mortar stores, and shifting their focus to online sales. But Boot Barn is taking a different approach, as they look to nearly double their offline footprint in the near future.  

Seeing as this goes against the “retail apocalypse” narrative, we dug into our data to analyze this strategic move. 

These Boots Were Made for Walkin’ 

Boot Barn’s foot traffic has increased steadily year-over-year from 2017 and that continued in 2019. When comparing monthly data, nearly every month in 2019 has outperformed the same month in 2018. This is the type of strong Year-over-Year growth and performance that brings confidence for a wide scale expansion.

When looking at the period from January 1st, 2017 through December 5th, 2019,  Boot Barn saw its biggest spike in Black Friday 2019, seeing foot traffic rise to a staggering 388.8% above the baseline.  Especially in a retail environment where the staying power of Black Friday’s impact is called into question, that number represents a massive increase from 2018, when the result number was a still-impressive 245.4%. 

But, when everyone seems to be closing their doors, why is Boot Barn planning to open nearly 250 more stores across the country? 

Location, Location, Location 

To try and answer this, we analyzed the True Trade Areas of multiple Boot Barns. And one of the most interesting takeaways was the lack of cannibalization across a variety of different regions.  Meaning, each stores’ customers stick to the location that’s nearest to them and are clearly oriented to a specific location. Below you can see three different locations in the San Antonio area that have very little overlap between them. This signifies a brand that has been especially effective at identifying the ideal locations for expansion. It’s also interesting to note that all these locations fall into a high percentile when compared to other locations, with one (blue) performing 2nd best amongst all stores across the country. Essentially, every store is being given the best chance to succeed.

With the brand crediting in-store activity with 80% of sales, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Boot Barn is expanding at such a rapid rate.  Yet, even more importantly, Boot Barn looks like a company has developed a powerful capacity to expand strategically. Strategic store placement across the country gives it room to expand into uncharted territory and its niche market of Western fashion allows for little competition among the apparel index. 

Luck of the Irish? 

Starbucks has an impressive if not predictable routine of releasing specialty drinks, and this year has been no different. Starbucks released the Tie-Dye Frappuccino in July, the Pumpkin Cold Brew in August and just launched its new Irish Cream Cold Brew on December 3rd. Starbucks seems to be riding the cold drink train as they now make up nearly half of the Starbucks menu.  But, in a lineup of hot, over-the-top holiday drinks, will the Irish Cream be enough to drive traffic? 

If we take a deeper look into the nationwide debut for the drink, we see a steep 18.1% drop below the baseline on the day of the launch. That’s a significant decrease from the previous year when the same day traffic was 3.3% below. Yet, while the first few days following the launch underperformed compared to the same days in 2018, the impact picked up heading into the weekend, with Friday driving visits 6.1% above the baseline.  

One potential cause may have been the timing. The winter is already a strong period for Starbucks with Black Friday serving as one of its yearly peaks. Perhaps the Cold Brew’s timing didn’t strike the right chord, or the drink needs more time to take off. No matter the impact of this one drink, the commitment of Starbucks to continue pushing new products and concepts will only serve to strengthen visits over time.

Check out our articles on the Placer blog for more insights into your favorite retailers. 

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