Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a Placer.ai account? Log In

Supermarkets: The COVID-19 Update

by 
Tali Rozenman
 on 
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 Placer.ai 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 Placer.ai Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Coffee Chains: Q1 2024 Update and What’s Changed Since COVID
Checking in with RBI and YUM!
Chipotle & McDonald's Serving Up Success
Wingstop & Shake Shack Continue Growing Their Reach 
Strong Start for Sprouts in 2024
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth
Placer.ai Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again
Placer.ai Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024?
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy
Placer.ai Mall Index: February 2024
Placer.ai Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024: Placer.ai’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains
Placer.ai Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top
Placer.ai and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap
Placer.ai Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season
Placer.ai White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season
Placer.ai Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success
Placer.ai 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
Placer.ai 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