Will shoppers flock to or avoid stores for Halloween and Christmas?
The proliferation of the COVID-19 Delta variant has generated confusion about the safety of shopping. While studies show relative improvement in shopping footfall over 2020, some data also indicate a growing hesitancy to shop in physical stores, which could have significant implications for retailers as the U.S. heads into the fall.
Foot traffic in the U.S. appeared to be improving in July compared to where it was earlier in the pandemic, according to a study by Springboard reported by Yahoo!Finance. While foot traffic was still down 44 percent from where it was previous to the pandemic, it had been rebounding month over month since the beginning of 2021.
Data from New York City indicates that through July major retail hubs were still lagging in foot traffic, according to The Real Deal. The data indicate that 48 percent fewer people were visiting the Westfield World Trade Center shopping mall than in an average year (although the drop may also be linked to the fact that major tenants like Starbucks and Victoria’s Secret are in litigation with the mall owner). At Rockefeller Center, foot traffic was down 47 percent over where it was in 2019. The business districts around Fifth Avenue and in SoHo, however, both report recent increases in foot traffic alongside store reopenings.
Some individual retailers have reported foot traffic continuing to slow into August. Despite being up 40 percent from where it was in August, 2020, Kroger has experienced a steady decline in foot traffic since the high point of a mid-May rebound, reports the Cincinnati Business Courier.
Kohl’s, however, announced in its expectation-beating second quarter earnings report that its traffic improved over the previous quarter, according to CNBC.
Traffic to small businesses has been up 53 percent across the country, according to a study by Zenreach reported by the Triangle Business Journal. Zenreach attributes the increase in small business traffic to changes in shopping habits brought on by the Delta variant, positing that shoppers are making choices that align with their personal values.
- Report Shows Retail Foot Traffic Improving, But Still Down 44% in July – Yahoo!Finance
- New York malls’ foot traffic still has not recovered – The Real Deal
- Foot traffic up for NC’s small businesses, but Covid resurgence could test progress – Triangle Business Journal
- Here’s how Kroger’s customer traffic is trending – Cincinnati Business Courier
- Kohl’s shares surge after earnings top estimates, retailer raises forecast as higher foot traffic drives sales – CNBC
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you make of the data coming out about U.S. foot traffic, and what do you see as the prime drivers for visiting or not visiting stores? How do you see store traffic developing as we head into the Halloween and the Christmas seasons?