In this Placer Bytes, we break down the impact of Omicron on the office recovery and check in on the comebacks of AMC and GameStop.
When we last checked in on the office recovery in New York City, we discussed the new obstacle caused by the Omicron variant and rising case numbers. And, as expected, the variant did impact the recovery, driving an increased visit gap in December 2021 when comparing visits to the equivalent months in 2019: While visits were down just 35.1%, the gap did increase to 39.7% in December.
However, this still marks a significant improvement compared to visit numbers in September and October – indicating that while Omicron’s impact will be felt, the recovery is likely to return to its former pace as that challenge lifts. The big question that remains is what the new ‘equilibrium’ will look like as hybrid work appears prepared to play a continued role.
AMC & GameStop
From the beginning of the ‘Meme Stock’ craze, few chains have captured our attention like AMC and GameStop. And while much of the buzz was clearly related more to Reddit attention than any significant shift in consumer behavior, both brands have been on the recovery trend.
AMC was showing positive signs already by the early summer, with visits returning and the pace of recovery picking up. Yet, Q4 pushed the bar far higher for the theatre chain. While visits were down 43.2% in November - likely due to the high bar set by the typically strong Thanksgiving period, as major new movies get released – October and December showed visits down just 17.1% and 14.5%, respectively, compared to the same months in 2019. This uptick, boosted by everyone’s favorite web-slinging superhero, speaks to a renewed demand for the theatre experience. Considering the backlog of major movies expected to hit in 2022 and the rising level of visits, there are legitimate reasons for optimism that 2022 could mark a significant reversal of fortune for movie theatres.
GameStop has seen an equally impressive recovery with visits actually up in October compared to 2019 as malls and retailers pushed for an extended holiday season. While November visits were down again, much of this centered around the loss of Thanksgiving traffic and major declines on Black Friday – which had a bigger effect on major malls.
Diving into weekly visits highlights the impact of the extended shopping season and Black Friday declines. Visits were at or above 2019 levels in the weeks leading up to Black Friday week, but visits the weeks of Black Friday and Super Saturday were down 18.3% and 16.2%, respectively. The other weeks of the season, however, visits were at or above 2019 levels. The final week of the year is also significant with visits up 7.5% as the return push took hold.
Will the end of Omicron signal the return to offices? Can AMC and GameStop keep the momentum going into 2022? Visit Placer.ai to find out.