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Covid-19 Findings Part 2: Footfall Drops in US Across All Categories

As the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak continues to disrupt and alter our lives, we’re helping quantify shifts in movement and are providing some insight into what’s happened thus far, now with data through the week of March 16.

TLDR: Footfall has significantly decreased across all of the business categories we examined — even grocery and pharmacy. Entertainment has been the worst-hit category and saw a 57% decrease in foot traffic the week of March 16 (compared to the previous week). 

Unless otherwise noted, percentage changes reflect the comparison in footfall between the week commencing March 16 and the week commencing March 9.

Grocery, Pharmacy and Retail


After weeks of surging traffic, grocery stores and pharmacies nationwide have started to see a decline in foot traffic, perhaps signalling that initial panic buying has somewhat subsided. Additionally, more people are turning to meal kit and grocery delivery services as they do their best to avoid leaving the house, and many grocery stores began limiting the number of customers allowed in-store at a given time.

Since mid-February, grocery stores have seen a 10% decline in traffic, and pharmacies have seen a 12% decline. In fact, foot traffic to grocery stores decreased by 20% the week commencing March 16 compared to the week prior, and that percentage jumps to 25% for pharmacies.


Despite long lines still being witnessed outside of warehouse clubs Costco and Sam’s Club, they’ve both seen a sharp decline in foot traffic (28% and 23%, respectively). Target saw a 31% drop, while Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens all saw approximately 21% less foot traffic than the week prior. 


Restaurants and Dining


Through March 15, our data showed little decrease in restaurant and bar visitation across the US, with heavily impacted states like California and Washington being the exceptions. However, nationwide foot traffic to restaurants and bars declined sharply the week of March 16 (41% and 49%, respectively), when states like California announced statewide shelter-in-place orders and the White House released new guidelines that advised against visiting bars, restaurants and food courts.


Travel and Airports


Unsurprisingly, the travel industry has been greatly impacted by Covid-19. As of March 22, airports nationwide have seen a 42% decrease in foot traffic compared to mid-February, and other travel-related locations (including hotels and tourist attractions) have seen a 43% decrease. Visitation changes were not, however, significant in the US until the week of March 16. By this time, France had imposed a nationwide lockdown and the EU had closed off at least 26 countries to visitors from the rest of the world. 


Entertainment


While foot traffic to places within our Entertainment category (including movie theaters and theme parks) has been steadily declining, it took a sharp downward turn the week of March 16. Compared to mid-February, footfall has decreased by 61% to these locations.


Around The World


We examined visitation data in Australia and Japan to get a sense of how Covid-19 has been affecting other countries around the world. While the trend in Australia is very similar to the US (though the decreases are not as dramatic), our data shows that foot traffic in Japan has almost stabilized and that there weren’t any significant changes between the week of March 16 and the week of March 9. In Australia, the sharpest declines in footfall were seen in airports (-30%), bars (-30%), places within the Entertainment category (-27%), and restaurants (-21%).

As circumstances around Covid-19 continue to change, we will continue to monitor the real-world impact to these and other industries.

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