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2022: Q1 Quarterly Index
Following three months of quarter-over-quarter growth, superstore visits fell by 17.2% compared to Q4 2021 – the result of the sector’s seasonality following large holiday visit numbers. Even so, quarterly visits were still higher than they had been during the equivalent quarter in both 2021 and 2019 – indicating that the superstore category is strong enough to weather the latest storm.
Analyzing dozens of brands including:
Weekly Visits Still Ahead
Towards the end of Q1, weekly visits fell relative to 2021 but remained strong relative to 2019. This means that although foot traffic may be down compared to the heights reached in 2021, visits are still ahead of where they were pre-pandemic – despite the rising cost of gas and recent inflation-induced price hikes. The current economic circumstances may even be driving visits by offering consumers a one-stop-shop with value-prices, saving consumers money on gas and in-store.
Increase in Weekend Visits
Following three straight quarters of rising weekday visits, the superstore category – like other retail categories – saw a rise in the share of weekend visits in Q1. After almost a year of increased weekday superstore shopping, the rise in weekend visits means that many consumers are back to their pre-pandemic patterns of saving larger shopping trips for Saturdays and Sundays. This drop in weekday superstore visits and increase in weekend visits is an indication that the pandemic’s impact on offline traffic is beginning to wane.
Visits Still Getting Shorter
Although superstore visit numbers rose by 3.0% compared to 2021, median visit length fell by 9.1%, which means that consumers’ superstore visits are shorter and more frequent than they were last year. The change is due in large part to the end of mission-driven shopping which characterized the early days of the pandemic. But the shorter, more frequent visits could also be the result of many consumers’ reduced spending power, which may be affecting basket size and visit duration.
Superstore Category Leaders
The pandemic drove superstore visits to new heights, and some brands have succeeded in transforming the short-term offline traffic surge into longer-term gains: quarterly visits to Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club were up by 9.2%, 4.4%, and 6.2% when compared to Q1 2019. In all cases, however, the Yo3Y quarterly visit growth was lower than it had been in all three previous quarters, indicating that there is an ongoing return to the pre-pandemic baseline even among brands that have managed to improve their position long-term.
Despite the challenges of this past quarter, the superstore sector has remained quite strong. Whether due to the one-stop-shop nature of superstores that helps consumers conserve gas, or the value-pricing, helping consumers manage amidst the current inflation, the superstore category has so far been relatively unaffected by the wider economic downturn. Still, the Yo3Y visit gap is slowly narrowing. So while superstores still play a larger role in consumers’ shopping routines relative to pre-COVID times, the data also indicates that the pendulum has begun to swing back in the direction of pre-pandemic patterns.
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