Stores

Grocery stores, superstores saw changing foot-traffic patterns in Q1, thanks to inflation

A return to pre-pandemic shopping habits is also affecting visits, according to Placer.ai.
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As consumers adjust to rising prices while slowly returning to pre-pandemic habits (like procrastinating on their shopping), some stores saw notable changes in foot traffic last quarter.

Food chain: According to Placer.ai, grocery stores saw foot traffic fall in Q1 of 2022, down 8.6% from the previous quarter, though visits were up 4.6% YoY.

  • The second half of Q1 saw a more significant slowdown, with YoY visits the week of March 28 down 6.6%, which Placer.ai attributes to higher costs—particularly record-high gas prices—taking hold.

Visits per individual store dropped by 4.4% from pre-pandemic levels and 10.1% from last quarter, so overall foot-traffic numbers were influenced by store expansions from Trader Joe’s, Publix, and Aldi (which beat 2019 visit numbers in Q1) rather than a boost in shopper numbers.

  • The median length of visits also dipped—down 1.9% QoQ and 4.4% YoY, another likely side effect of inflation and smaller basket sizes, the report noted.

But despite YoY visit-rate declines in Q1, visits grew each month in the quarter, a positive sign for grocery, said Ethan Chernofsky, Placer.ai’s VP of marketing.

“The lasting strength in the sector is a powerful indication that the boost the sector saw from the pandemic could be far longer-lasting than initially expected,” he told Retail Brew in an email.

Supersized: Meanwhile, the promise of one-stop shopping (and value pricing) at superstores like Target, Costco, and Sam’s Club has kept foot traffic going strong, per the report.

  • Visits took an unsurprising 17.2% dive QoQ following Q4’s typical holiday rush, but YoY, they were up 3%. Weekly visits slowed down toward the end of Q1, but remained strong compared to 2019.

Consumers are also returning to their pre-Covid shopping habits of pushing everything off to the weekend. After three quarters of decline, weekend shopping visits to superstores last quarter were up 36.2%.

  • But, again, the visits are getting shorter: they fell by 9.1% YoY and 5.6% QoQ.—EC
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