Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Placer Bytes: Mass Merchandise Consumer Behavior Changes, Macy's Prognosis

Ethan Chernofsky
May 11, 2020
Placer Bytes: Mass Merchandise Consumer Behavior Changes, Macy's Prognosis

In this Placer Bytes we dive into COVID-19’s impact on the way we shop within the Mass Merchandise sector and provided a potential bull case for Macy’s.

Lasting Consumer Behavior Changes?

With the pandemic leaving a massive impact on the retail sector, much of the discussion has rightfully centered around the huge impact on sales and performance. Yet, coronavirus has affected the way consumers shop as well, and this could potentially last far longer.

Looking at shopping patterns for Walmart and Target during March and April 2020 and comparing it to behavior from the same months in 2019 shows some very interesting changes. In 2019, 40.7% of customers who visited a Walmart nationwide came immediately from home. Unsurprisingly, this number shot up by 16.2% to 56.9% for March and April 2020 as a result of stay-at-home measures. 

And, the impact here has been felt most heavily by other retailers. There was a 4.3% decline in those visiting a restaurant before a Walmart visit and a near 1.0% decline after. And a 3.2% decline in shopping at other locations prior to a Walmart visit. Although we continued to shop for essentials, the shopping trips themselves were cut much shorter, thus having a wider impact.

Restaurants may have been the hardest hit cross-shopping partner. Looking at cross-shopping patterns for March and April 2019, 39.4% of Walmart visitors also visited a McDonald's during the period and 25.2% also visited a Starbucks. These numbers plummeted to 28.7% and 13.1% respectively in March and April 2020. For Target shoppers, cross-shopping numbers for the two month period dropped from 39.6% to 27.6% at McDonald’s and 33.0% to 23.1% at Starbucks. 

In fact, the only cross-shopping that wasn’t negatively impacted was unsurprisingly, grocery, where visits were level at Kroger, Publix, and others. 

But cross-shopping wasn’t the only behavior impacted. The times when consumers shopped changed as well. The daily distribution of visits at Walmarts in 2019 (dark blue), saw significant increases in midday visits at the expense of evening and night visits. In fact, every hour between 9am and 5pm saw a significant jump during March and April in 2020.

The effect was true for day of week distribution, as well for Target in 2019 (red) and 2020 (yellow). Saturday visits dropped from 22.7% of overall traffic to 17.6%, while Mondays and Tuesdays saw increases of nearly 1.0%, and Wednesday and Thursday visits rose by 2.5% and 2.7% respectively.

And this may shed light on a major and potentially sustainable change, how we balance work and life. Working from home has enabled many to optimize their schedules to visit Walmarts and Targets at non-peak hours - evenings and weekends. This reduces crowds at stores and enables brands to have a steadier flow of customers in a more “socially distanced” manner. But, should some working-from-home elements remain in place post-COVID-19, the impact could potentially sustain itself and have a significant effect on staffing and behavior. 

And, it isn’t just the retailers that are impacted. Imagine if we weren’t forced to buy groceries on weekends, how could we potentially fill that time? There are significant economic opportunities that may come from more flexible scheduling, and the coming months may put those on display.

Macy’s Prognosis

Macy’s is a very interesting case. The brand, like so many others in the apparel space, has been hit particularly hard, with many voicing concerns for the model itself. Yet, there is a bull case for Macy’s. Except for December 2019 and January 2020, every month since January 2019 has seen significant year-over-year visit growth. Even February 2020 saw visits increase by 5.3% year over year with overall visits coming in at 6.5% below the monthly baseline for the period.  

But, COVID-19 did hit very hard. Visits in March were down 69.8% year over year, and in April they were down to zero, with all stores closed. However, a silver lining does exist. Not only is Macy’s a brand that enjoyed positive momentum heading into the crisis, but many of its biggest competitors are being affected as well. J Crew has filed for bankruptcy, as has JC Penney and Neiman Marcus with more expected in the coming weeks. And all of these have high cross-shopping behavior with Macy’s

Does this guarantee a rebound? No. Does it mean that there is an audience that Macy’s could effectively engage with? Absolutely. And the opportunities do seem to be present based on early returns from openings. In South Carolina locations, of which admittedly there are only a very small number, the brand actually had year-over-year growth of 8.6% in daily traffic on Wednesday, May 6th.

So with the opportunity clearly available, the impact of direct engagement with competitor audiences may determine the brand’s future.

Check back in with for more updates. 

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
What’s in Store for Self-Storage?
Nike + lululemon Update: Strong Performance Amid Expansion Plans
Many Ways to Win: Midwest Grocery Deep Dive
Retail, Reinvented: The Rise of the Pop-Up Shop
Navigating a New Normal in Business Travel & Commutes Office Index: February 2023 Recap
Retail Categories Staying Strong in Volatile Environment
Ulta Beauty: Poised for Success into 2023 Mall Index February 2023: Reasons for Continued Optimism
Catching Up With DICK’s & Hibbett
The Miami-Dade Arena: An Advertising Slam Dunk
Car Washes Revving Up Visits
Tuesday Morning and Sunrises in Home Furnishing
Dining & Valentine’s Day Recap
2023: The Year of the Discount Store
Aldi’s Success Highlights Growing Demand for Value Groceries
5 Retail & Service Categories Holding onto Pandemic Gains in 2023
Visitor Insights from Super Bowl 2023
2023 First Look: Home Improvement Update
How Are Target, Walmart, and Wholesale Clubs Faring in 2023?
Department Store Deep-Dive: Nordstrom
Off-Price: Taking Off in Uncertain Times
Checking in On Middle-Class Hubs
Who Attends the Super Bowl? Office Index: January 2023 Recap
Focusing On Fitness: Q4 and January Recap Mall Index: January 2023 – Returning Mall Normalcy?
Location Intelligence Insights Into Concert Attendance
Winning Dining Strategies for 2023
In-N-Out Burger: What to Expect as the Brand Moves East
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & Migration Trends
A Location Intelligence Perspective on Macy’s Rightsizing
Amazon-Powered Shopping: The Future of Brick-and-Mortar Grocery?
Cold Weather, Hot Visits: Diving into Winter Resorts
Wawa and 7-Eleven: Leaning Into the “Slurpee Effect”
2022 and Beyond: Catching Up With McDonald’s & Chipotle
Let’s Have Some Fun! Going Out Is In’s Q4 2022 Quarterly Index Adds Industry Executives to Leadership Team To Drive Company's Next Phase of Growth
5 Emerging Retail Formats: 2023’s Brick-and-Mortar Evolution
Grocery Update: Zooming in on the Lone Star State
2022 Office Recap: The Year of the TGIF Work Week
What Lies Ahead for Brick-and-Mortar Luxury in 2023 Mall Indexes: December 2022 Recap
Looking Back on 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season
Post-Pandemic Migration Trends in New York
Top Retailers for 2023
The Live Sports Advertising Opportunity
Domestic Migration to the Mountain States: Small Shifts with Big Implications
New Year, New Food: 5 Dining Trends For 2023
This is Why Shop-in-Shops Are Everywhere
Super Saturday 2022 Recap
The San Francisco Shift
Grocery Year-End Update: Publix in the Spotlight
Three Ways Retailers Can Think Small to Increase Store Impact
Offline Beauty Is on an Upswing
The Evolving Migration Patterns of New York’s Florida Snowbirds Office Index: November 2022 Recap
How Viral Social Media Trends Can Drive Offline Engagement
Are You Ready for Some Football? Experiential Marketing Shows Promise
Mall and Shopping Center Trends For 2023
Retail Corridors and Indoor Malls: A Holiday Head-to-Head
Placer Bytes: Nike, lululemon, and GameStop Update Mall Indexes: November 2022 Update
Black Friday 2022: Consumers Hear the Call
Digitally Native Brands: Taking Off, Offline
Discount and Dollar Stores Leading the Pack
Turkey Wednesday 2022
Retail’s Evolving Holiday Season
Placer Bytes: Starbucks and Department Stores Ahead of Black Friday
Ulta: A Force to be Reckoned With
College Towns Drive Dining Growth
Foot Traffic Trends Reveal Consumers Ready for Holiday Cheer
How Retailers Can Win Big By Going Small
How Are Consumers Feeling Ahead of Black Friday 2022?
Off-Price, Hibbett, and Dick’s Pre-Holiday Check-in
Ho, Ho, Wholesale: Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s
October 2022’s Retail Rebound
Target and Walmart Ahead of the Holidays
Home Improvement: Leave it to the Pros
Despite Inflation, Holiday Season is Off to a Good Start Office Index: October 2022 Recap Mall Indexes- October 2022 Update
Americans Double Down on Fitness
The State of Grocery
CVS and Walgreens: The Wave Continues
Coffee Chains Brewing Up Visits Spotlight: Pizza Players
What Drove COVID-Era Urban Migration Trends?
Kroger and Albertsons: A Merging of Strengths
Texas Roadhouse Innovations Dishing Up Success
Holidays on the Horizon: Mid-Range and Luxury Shopping
McDonald's and Chipotle's Post-Pandemic Success
Announcing’s Q3 2022 Quarterly Index
5 Hot Restaurant Brands for 2023
Target Finds a Winning Deals Day Formula
Five Trends to Watch for 2022’s Holiday Shopping Season