Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Retail Update - Category Analysis

Ethan Chernofsky
October 4, 2021
Retail Update - Category Analysis

With the Back-to-School season in the rearview mirror and the holiday season quickly approaching, we dove into category level analysis to try and understand the wider trends impacting retail.

The Post Summer Dip

The combination of the wider reopening alongside a key Back-to-School shopping season in the summer drove a significant recovery for many brands and segments. The overall retail category saw significant strength in the summer with the 7-week period beginning the week of July 5th showing average weekly visit growth of 7% when compared to the equivalent weeks in 2019. Further fuel was added to the fire with international travel severely limited and a unique financial situation creating opportunities across the board.

Yet, the period of extended strength did meet an end with the four-week period beginning August 23rd, averaging visits rates that were flat when compared to the equivalent period in 2019 including visits the week beginning September 13th that were down 3%. 

And the effect was seen in overall shopping center visits as well, with the week of September 13th showing an 8% decline compared to the equivalent week in 2019.

Other categories also saw a similar pattern with grocery and dining both going from mid-summer peaks to declining returns in early September. 

The fitness and apparel categories also saw similar situations with weeks that were near or above 2019 levels quickly reverting back to comparative declines as August came to a close.

The Why - An Optimistic and Pessimistic View

Yet, the important question here is rooted in the why. 

An optimist’s perspective would focus on the power of the recovery itself in midsummer. Even in the face of rising COVID cases and as major cities were still being limited by the ongoing disruptions to work, school, and travel - retail saw strength. Categories like dining, apparel and fitness - expected to see slower recoveries - saw many brands with growth when compared to 2019, and all this alongside the ongoing strength seen in Home Improvement, Grocery, and Superstores like Target and Walmart. All in all, the swift and widespread nature of the recovery proved how resilient consumer demand remained for brick-and-mortar locations, deepening the confidence of the central role they continue to play in retail ongoing evolution. 

The late summer declines, from this viewpoint, are the result of a rise in COVID cases and the natural effect of an especially strong Back-to-School season. The strength of the visit surges in July and early August lead naturally into deeper declines in September and October where the urgency of retail holidays and the wider recovery excitement are removed. The key takeaway here being that key retail seasons retained their strength – and while COVID concerns linger, the potential exists for a better than expected holiday period. Even more, even as retail recovered, the benefits were widespread across segments showing the power of the recovery to increase the wider pie.

Yet, a more pessimistic view is also possible. Perhaps retail saw a recovery because of a unique set of circumstances that drove short term strength. Then, when COVID returned, so did the relative declines compared to 2019. From this perspective, while the short term spikes were positive, they don’t indicate a fundamental change to a wider situation that will continue to limit retail visits - especially under the lingering effects of COVID. These realities will only be exacerbated by supply chain challenges, rising retail costs, and the removal of short term capital infusions driven by government action. 

The ultimate reality will likely be somewhere in between. Though my personal belief is that, barring an extreme upswing of COVID, the holidays should prove to be particularly powerful for retail visits, it is impossible to ignore the challenges facing the sector. After a very strong Back-to-School season, September and October present a step back.

Will the holiday season drive renewed retail strength? 

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.
Location Intelligence Breakdown: Coffee Caps-Off 2022
Digitally Native Brands Lean Into Brick & Mortar
Washington, D.C. Population Changes & 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
September 2022 Analysis: A Difficult Month and Time for Optimism
Inflation’s Retail Winners
Five Apparel Retailers to Watch Ahead of the Holidays Spotlight: Wawa’s QSR Pivot Mall Indexes: September 2022 Recap Office Indexes: September 2022 Recap
The Impact of Population Growth on Commercial Real Estate 
Starbucks' New Makeover
There's Somethin' About Pumpkin
Expanding Offline Reach
Breakfast Restaurants are Rising in Popularity
The Power of Labor Day 2022
Tourism in Miami Heating Up
Citi Trends on the Rise
Reaching Rural Consumers Through Retail Media Network
Darden Restaurants Cooking Up Success
The Home Improvement Sector: A Sign of Consumer Confidence
QSR Is Having a Northeastern Growth Spurt
Domestic Migration’s Ripple Effects
A Look Back at Back To School 2022
Kroger Digital Tell-All
The Return of In-Person Networking
The Reinvention of the American Mall Office Building Indexes: August 2022 Recap Mall Indexes - August 2022 Recap
Five Below’s Back to School Success
Plus-Size Fashion’s Staying Power
Placer Bytes: Best Buy & GameStop 
Petco Barking Up the Right Tree
Lipstick Effect Boosts Ulta’s Growth