Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Placer Spotlight: How Five Below Turned Pandemic Lemons into Lemonade

Shira Petrack
April 18, 2022
Placer Spotlight: How Five Below Turned Pandemic Lemons into Lemonade

Foot traffic to Five Below has been increasing steadily for the past several years, but the pandemic catalyzed a major growth spurt. We dove into this rising retail giant to understand what contributed to its astronomical rise. 

Leveraging the Lockdown  

In mid-March, 2020, Five Below announced that it would close all of its stores in response to the emerging Coronavirus. But even at the height of the COVID closures, Five Below CEO and President Joel Anderson (formerly the CEO of Walmart) could already see the potential opportunity. In an interview given April 6th 2020, Anderson noted that the economic situation would likely open up retail vacancies in key cities and states that could help Five Below’s expansion plans. 

Indeed, brick and mortar expansion has been key to Five Below’s success. Before the pandemic, the retailer had plans to open 180 new stores in 2020 on top of the 750 stores it operated in January 2019. While the brand didn't quite hit its pre-pandemic target, the company still managed to open an impressive 120 net new stores in fiscal 2020, and another 170 new stores in fiscal 2021 – increasing its store fleet by over a third in just two years. This large-scale expansion has helped the retailer pull ahead of the wider discount and dollar store category ever since the company fully reopened its stores in June 2020. 

Bigger Store Fleet with More Customers in Each Store

But while some of Five Below’s massive foot traffic growth is due to its larger store count, the real testament to the retailer’s strength lies in its visits-per-venue metrics. Since 2008, the brand’s stores have gone through multiple redesigns, with the prototypical store getting larger and larger with every redesign – and attracting an increasing number of customers per store.

For the past year, average monthly visits per store have been up every single month, with foot traffic per store this past January and February up by 12.2% and 12.0%, respectively, when compared to January and February 2020. So, not only does Five Below now have many more stores than it did before the pandemic, the number of consumers visiting each store has also risen significantly. 

The substantial growth in foot traffic per venue can explain the company’s recent announcement that it intends to reach 3500+ stores nationwide or triple its current store count by 2025. 

Impervious to Inflation and Rising Gas Prices 

While inflation is pushing prices up, Five Below has found a creative way to go beyond its usual $5 price ceiling while staying true to its commitment to low prices. Following successful pilots, Five Below is now expanding its “Five Beyond” shop-in-shops – a section in the back of the store with value-priced products that cost more than $5. This allows the retailer to sell a wider assortment of products without losing customers only interested in the $5 or less items. 

So far, this strategy is paying off. The rise in gas prices and inflation has not hampered the brand’s growth, and comparing overall visits and visits per venue over the past six weeks to 2019 levels shows that both metrics are considerably and consistently up. 

Five Below stores do not carry fresh groceries, medicine, or other basics for which customers visit stores during times of economic uncertainty; instead, the company’s motto of “let go and have fun” seems to evoke fundamentally unessential products. The continued success of the brand shows that even in a downturn, consumers will still spend money on products that bring them joy – so long as they can do so without breaking the bank. 

What’s Next for Five Below? 

Aside from more stores and more Five Beyond shop-in-shops, the brand is also planning a new flagship store in New York’s Times Square. And despite the latest economic challenges, there is no reason to think that the brand’s growth will slow down anytime soon. Five Below has proved that it can thrive even under the most difficult circumstances. 

Compared to 2019, overall visits, visits per venue, and the share of returning visitors have all grown – an indication of how the brand successfully turned the pandemic lemons into lemonade. In the 20 years since its founding, Five Below has built itself up into a household name, and the brand’s future looks rosy.  

For more data-driven retail insights, visit our blog

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.
How Will Primark’s US Expansion Impact Target?
All Eyes on Eyewear
Northwestern U.S. Grocery Dive
Return of the Lunch: Salad Chains Are Thriving
Retail Media Networks – Off the Beaten Track
Bet Your Bottom Dollar: Discount and Dollar Stores Drive Foot Traffic
Ulta & Lululemon: Discretionary Spending On The Up
The Score After Q1: Sporting Goods Chains
Who Uses NYC Airports: Biting Into The Big Apple’s Main Transport Hubs
Off Price: Strength in The Face of Retail Challenges
Visits Improve for Home Improvement
Walmart, Target & Wholesalers in Q1 2023 – The Return of Mission-Driven Shopping?
Department Store Roundup: Q1 2023 Office Index: April 2023 Recap Mall Index, April 2023 – A Rebound on the Horizon?
How Will Bed Bath & Beyond’s Bankruptcy Impact the Retail Space?
Buffet Restaurants: Filling Up on Foot Traffic
Thrift Stores: Vintage Visits Drive New Age in Apparel
The Windy City: A Hub of Post-Pandemic Opportunity
Diving into Dining Traffic - Q1 2023
Bring On The Joe
A Dollar (or more) For Your Thoughts: Five Below and pOpshelf
Dining Out With The Cheesecake Factory
Retail Foot Traffic Recap – March 2023
Digging Into 2023: McDonald’s and Chipotle Update Office Index: March 2023 Recap
How Did Key Retail Categories Perform in Q1 2023?
Northeastern USA Grocery Dive
Movie Theaters Storylines for 2023
Ollie's Bargain Outlet: Discounters are Evolving
Leveraging Brick-and-Mortar Retail in 2023
America’s Evolving Work Patterns: A Deep-Dive into New York and Chicago Mall Index March 2023
Tuning Into Record Stores
Five Franchises To Watch in 2023
What’s Next For Domestic Tourism?
It’s Showtime! Movie Theaters in the Spotlight
5 Limited Time Offers (LTOs) Driving Restaurant Traffic
Department Store Deep-Dive: Belk
Regional Grocery Chains Staying Ahead of the Competition
Five Chains that Rightsized for Success
Unlocking the Potential of Offline Retail Media Networks
Dining Out With Darden
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