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Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024

by 
Shira Petrack
 on 
March 13, 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024

With the first round of earning announcements in 2024 coming to a close, we dove into the foot traffic data to find out which companies are likely to surpass their 2023 performance in the coming year.

1. Gap Maintains Minimal Visit Gaps Despite Store Closures

Following a challenging period and shifts in apparel consumer preferences hampering traffic, Gap’s performance is on the upswing. The company, which operates four iconic brands – Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, and Banana Republic – recently announced stronger-than-expected Q4 2023 results, driven by strong performances of the Gap and Old Navy brands. 

Foot traffic data also points to a comeback. The Old Navy and Gap managed to maintain minimal year-over-year (YoY) visit gaps in 2023 despite the challenging retail environment, with Q4 visits – during the critical holiday season – down just 2.3% and 1.7% for the two brands, respectively. 

Gap’s turnaround is likely helped by several C-suite personnel changes at the company. Last year, Gap Inc. brought in C.E.O. Richard Dickson from Mattel to revitalize the legacy brands, and Chris Blakeslee – previously at Alo Yoga – was chosen to lead the Athleta chain. And the company is continuing its series of high-profile hirings in 2024 with the appointment of designer Zac Posen as Creative Director of the company and Chief Creative Officer of the Old Navy banner. Should Gap continue on its current track, the company is well-positioned for a strong 2024. 

2. The Cheesecake Factory’s Growth Potential 

Monthly visits to The Cheesecake Factory fell YoY for much of last year, with the chain’s foot traffic regularly lagging behind the wider Restaurant category. But the gaps between the wider industry performance and visits to the brand began to narrow towards the end of the year, with The Cheesecake Factory beating out the overall Restaurant industry in terms of YoY traffic in December 2023. And although January 2024’s cold spell brought visits back down, foot traffic rose again in February 2024.

The chain has announced plans to expand its store count this year and intends to implement moderate price hikes to offset rising costs. And if the positive foot traffic trends continue alongside the company’s new unit openings and price increases, The Cheesecake Factory may well outpace its 2023 performance in 2024. 

3. Petco On Track for a Rebound 

The pet care sector thrived over the pandemic, as the combination of shelter-in-place orders, stimulus checks, and reduced spending channels drove consumers to shower their pets with love in the form of increased spending at pet stores. But the economic headwinds of the past two years led some shoppers to reduce their discretionary spending. Some consumers have gone as far as surrendering their pets in an effort to cut costs, with the tighter consumer budgets impacting visits to leading pet care retailers, including Petco. And to add to an already challenging situation, the pet care landscape has recently become even more competitive, with Walmart recently making more aggressive inroads into the space. 

But Petco is fighting to stay on top, with the company continuing to invest in its veterinary program and optimize its product assortment to keep up with the changing preferences of 2024 consumers. And recent foot traffic data indicates that Petco’s strategy may be bearing fruit. Visits to Petco grew 1.8% and 4.0% YoY in November and December 2023, respectively – indicating that many pet owners still splurged on holiday gifts for their beloved pets and turned to Petco for the perfect treat or toy. And although January 2024’s unusual cold spell drove a visit lag, foot traffic quickly stabilized in February – indicating that the company should not be written off quite yet. 

For more retail and dining insights, visit our blog at placer.ai.

This blog includes data from Placer.ai Data Version 2.0, which implements improvements to our extrapolation capabilities, adds short visit monitoring, and enhances visit detection.

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