Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Q3: Peaks, Valleys and Closures

Ethan Chernofsky
November 5, 2019
Q3: Peaks, Valleys and Closures

What do CVS, Office Depot and JC Penney all have in common? They’ve been pushed to close stores in 2019.

So we decided to analyze Q3 data to get a sense of the overall situation for these chains. Is there a silver lining to their difficult closure announcements or does it portend a future that could be rougher than desired?

Back to Schools Office Supply Boost

Office Depot saw a strong peak in August as would be expected for a store focused on supplies in the Back-to-School season, but unfortunately, the peak was not as high as the brand likely would have hoped for. While visits for Office Depot and Office Max were up in August, they were down year over year each month of Q3. Office Depot visits were down 3.8% in July, 1.5% in August and 14.5% in September. While the latter number reflects a trend that was felt throughout the retail world, the drops in July and August are worrying.

Especially, considering that Staples, a clear competitor in the space, saw modest growth. Staples enjoyed a minor 0.3% bump in July and a 3.4% increase in August. While they also went through a September decline, the drop was 9.4%, far less than what Office Depot experienced.

Critically, much of this is likely to do with the closing of stores throughout the country. Yet, the capacity of this brand to maximize a peak that is so critical to this sector will become something of key import to watch in the next year. Even more, whether any of these brands can find a way to drive a second, manufactured jump somewhere else in the calendar could give a key indication of who may prove the ultimate victor in the space.

Apparel Battle

JC Penney (blue) and Macy’s (red) have eerily similar numbers, but far more important than the absolutes are the trends they represent. Analyzing the period from September 2017 through September 2019, JC Penney saw a decrease in visits compared to their baseline in November and December 2018 compared to the same months in 2017. Yet, things look to be turning around, with August 2019 numbers rising 13.3% above the baseline for the period, above the 7.3% rise in 2018. 

Macy’s saw an even more promising result. While there was a decline in visits from November 2018 compared to the same month in 2017, there was a rise in December for that same period. Yet, the most interesting factor waited for 2019 where every month from January through August showed a marked improvement on the same month in 2018. 

And this places a huge emphasis on the potential performance in the Q4 holiday season. If Macy’s can continue their positive trajectory, November and December traffic could spike above any numbers seen in the last few years. JC Penney, on the other hand, will look to channel the summer success into something that rights the in-store holiday ship in 2019.

Diagnosing Pharmacy Leaders

While Walgreens had a strong quarter in some respects, their recent earnings led to a drop as a result of expected store closings and layoffs. With the larger number of locations, Walgreens does see more traffic on a weekly basis than competitor CVS. And with a series of new initiatives on the way alongside their positive summer traffic momentum, there is certainly a silver lining to their recent performance. Yet, the ‘smaller’ CVS does see their traffic trend very closely with Walgreens giving a unique place to analyze their performance.

And this may bode especially well for CVS. CVS saw a strong summer with July and August visits that were 8.3% and 7.8% above the same months in 2018, with September seeing a minor - relative to other top brands - 1.3% dip. With a series of new innovative concepts like their Health Hub rollout, CVS may be on track for even greater things moving forward.


There is a lot to be said about store closings. They can have a big impact on employees, the communities they serve and the property owners that house them. But, closures do not always mean a brand is in trouble. Often, it can be an indication of a more sophisticated approach to growth, with a reset that aligns expansion with more strategic perspectives and a great focus on retail footprint optimization.

How will these brands progress? Visit to find out.

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.
The CAVA Craze: A Location Intelligence Perspective on the Mediterranean Marvel
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