Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Supermarkets: The COVID-19 Update

Tali Rozenman
March 30, 2020
Supermarkets: The COVID-19 Update

The supermarket industry is one of the few continuously bringing in traffic as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds. Analyzing the second week of March, grocers saw significant peaks, with Friday the 13th marking one of the highest traffic days in years. 

Was this a panic-driven spike, or are supermarkets sustaining growth deeper into the month of March? We dove into the latest data to find out. 

Returning to Normal Levels

Looking at year-over-year growth in weekly visits from the beginning of March reveals some very interesting trends. While we saw traffic rise significantly from late February through the second week of March, none of the seven chains analyzed saw visits in the third week of March match the peak of a week prior. Most still saw significant year-over-year growth, but the levels were far closer to normal, with that pace quickening.

While Albertsons, Kroger, Publix and Safeway all maintained double-digit growth in the same week a year prior, Whole Foods, Wegmans and Trader Joe saw losses. And Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s were hit hard with losses of 30.0% and 31.9% in visits year-over-year respectively.

There are a multitude of factors that could be driving these declines, but chief among them is likely the distribution of locations in major cities. The impact on large cities has been massive. Travel is dropping dramatically, universities, many of whom sit within major cities, are emptying out, and these areas are also among the hardest hit by the coronavirus itself. Additionally, Trader Joe’s is impacted by a wider perception of not being ‘full grocery’ but having a more niche appeal. As mentioned in earlier research, huge numbers of Trader Joe’s visitors will visit another grocery on the same day. 

Wegman’s is likely also being affected by its regional setup with nearly all of its locations in the northeast with heavy concentrations in NY. Additionally, though the wide range of products do position this brand with an audience more likely to stock up for longer terms. 

The Unsustainable Peak

But even looking at the top-performing brands there are signs of a more normal shopping pattern. Albertsons, one of the brands seeing especially strong performance of late, saw Friday visits drop from a March 13th peak of 135.9% above the daily baseline, to visits the next Friday that were just 13.4% above. Assuredly, this is still impressive, but a far cry from the initial rush.

The same can be said for Publix who watched visits on Saturday the 14th rise 59.6% above the baseline only to see visits fall to 26.7% below the next Saturday.

This likely points to a reality where visits will return to a more expected level. The big remaining questions are whether those levels will remain above or below the normal visit ranges.

True Trade Area Takeaways 

But one of the most interesting insights has come from looking at the impact of coronavirus on visitation patterns. Analyzing the True Trade Area, a breakdown of where visitors to a specific location are coming from, can break down critical changes in customer behavior. For example, looking at a Publix in South Florida, there was a massive reduction in the overall True Trade Area size comparing the first two weeks of March to the first two weeks of February. The actual size decreased by 13.9% and the addressable population declined by over 17.0%. Yet, even with these difficult changes, the location saw visit growth of 15.4%. 

However, this trend was not applicable across the country. Grocers in some areas saw massive jumps in True Trade Area size while others saw declines. And this could have a huge impact on strategy. Larger than normal trade areas could indicate new markets for these groceries to target upon a return to normalcy, while smaller trade areas could help brands distinguish between local audiences and regulars who stop by on their way to work. The process could even help brands sharpen their delivery strategies by recognizing their core home audiences.

Will Grocery Visits Stabilize?

Only time will tell. But considering the shifts already seen, it is likely that new and impactful changes are on the way.

Check back in next week at the blog for the Supermarkets update. 

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.
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success White Paper Recap – November 2023
Thanksgiving Travel 2023 Recap
Checking in With Nike and Lululemon
Black Friday 2023 Retail Recap
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance
Turkey Wednesday 2023
Who Attended the 2023 Pickleball Championship? 
Three Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive
Discount & Dollar Stores: Strength Toward The End of the Year
The State of Off-Price Retail: Discounts Seal The Deal
Placer Mall Index Recap: October 2023 Office Index: October 2023 Recap
Retail Corridors Ahead of the 2023 Holiday Season
California, Here Gap Comes
Checking in With Home Improvement
Getting Into the Glasses Game: Warby Parker Takes Over
Fitness Positioned for a Strong 2023 Finish
White Paper Recap: October 2023
Coffee Giants Brewing Up Business
Popeyes and Burger King Lead the Way
Diving into Yum!
Looking Ahead to Black Friday 2023
Blockbusters Drive Movie Theater Comeback
Crocs and Boot Barn: Shoe-Ins for Success
McDonald’s and Chipotle's Winning Recipe
The State Of Steak: Checking in With Texas Roadhouse
Pleasant Pastimes: Pickleball Potential Proves Potent
Who’s Driving Downtown Manhattan’s Weekend Revival?
Diving into Downtown Manhattan Foot Traffic Trends
Rite Aid: Rightsizing Right
Major League Soccer: Its Die-Hard and Casual Fans
The Anchor Recap: September 2023 Office Index: September 2023 Recap
Placer Mall Index Recap: September 2023
September White Paper Recap
The Consumer Habits of College Students
JCPenney: Rightsizing and Revitalizing
Pent-Up Demand Ahead of October Sales Events
4 Strategies Retailers are Using to Drive Traffic to Their Venues
5 Key Regional Grocery Players Impressing in 2023
Upscale Kitchenware Trending Up
Costco Finds More Room for Growth
Four C-Store Chains Making an A-Grade
National Parks + Outdoor Summer Activities
Diving Into Darden: Summer 2023 Update
The Summer Event Effect
Messi: Massive in Miami
Looking Back on Back to School 2023
The Anchor Recap: August 2023 Office Index: August 2023 Recap Mall Index: August 2023 Recap White Paper Recap: August 2023
Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Strikes Again
Big Scoop: We All Scream For Ice Cream
Sports Away: Lululemon & Nike’s Momentum Continues
Summer Visits Heat Up For Recreation and Outdoor Gear Chains
No CSS overwrite - July 2023 Office Index Recap
Staging - August 2023 Mall Indec
Mid-Atlantic Grocery Deep Dive
Experiential Chains Heating Up This Summer
Petco Goes Big by Going Small
Ulta Beauty: Leading the Discretionary Pack
Discount and Dollar Chains Continue to Thrive
Summer of Sports: DICK’s Sporting Goods and Hibbett Sports
Off-Price: Succeeding Into Summer
The Anchor Recap: July 2023
Superstores Maintaining Pandemic Gains Amidst Economic Headwinds
2023: Home Improvement at the Halfway Point
July 2023 Office Index Recap Mall Index: July 2023 Recap
The Taylor Swift Visit Lift
Southwestern Grocery Dive
July 2023 White Paper Recap: Halfway Point Review & Quarterly Index
Yum! Brands: Driving Dining Visits
Slurpees and Summer Movies Stimulate Consumer Foot Traffic
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update
Checking In on Back to School 2023
Crocs and New Balance Tip The Scales
Burger Bliss: Shake Shack and In-N-Out Stacking Visits
Chipotle & McDonald's Continue to Reign Supreme
Vibenomics and Partner to Enhance Retail Media In-Store Measurement
California Grocers Here We Come!
Marriott’s Different Audiences
Bonchon and Kura Sushi Thrive in the Fast-Casual Scene
A Shoe In: Footwear Climbs to the Top
Cheers! Raising a Glass to Beverage Retail Office Index: June 2023 Recap Mall Index June 2023 Recap – A Turn of the Tide and a Dive into Open-Air Lifestyle Centers
Local Kitchens: Redefining the Restaurant
Unlocking Urban Insights: The Value in Manhattan’s Employees
Ohio State Parks On The Rise
How is Inflation Impacting the High-Income Shoppers?
Five Fast-Growing Dining Chains
What To Expect From Prime Day and July Sales Events in 2023
The State Of Fashion: How Are Apparel Retailers Faring in 2023?
2023’s Latest Dining Success Story: GEN Korean BBQ House
The NBA Finals: A Location Intelligence Perspective