Anecdotal evidence revealed that, at many U.S. grocery stores, consumers did a lot of panic buying—and then stayed home. Footfall traffic data confirm this phenomenon.
From March 17 – 19, 2020, soon after the European travel ban was announced, footfall traffic peaked by nearly 42 percent, on average, at most U.S. grocery stores. Immediately afterward, foot traffic fell sharply below a baseline established on February 26, 2020, as people sheltered in place in many areas.
Compared with the previous year, the period of February 26 – April 2, 2020 saw roughly a 19 percent drop in U.S. grocery store foot traffic. Some major big box retailers experienced even bigger declines than grocery retailers did during this period: over 30 percent.
According to travel and navigation app developer GasBuddy, convenience store foot traffic bottomed out around the same time. It decreased between March 26 and April 1, 2020, then rebounded from April 23 – 29, 2020, likely due to relaxed restrictions in many states.
Not surprisingly, c-stores with above-average cleanliness ratings from customers saw 17.23 percent more visits than competitors with below-average ratings. The takeaway: Cleanliness is not just a customer preference—for many, it’s now a health issue.
From peaks and valleys in foot traffic to new expectations for cleanliness, retailers are adapting to a new way of doing business. Here are a few of their strategies.