Measuring the COVID-19 Impact on Consumer Foot Traffic


Earnest continues to surface insights related to COVID-19 from our newly acquired mobile geolocation dataset, launching later this year. Consumer foot traffic trends have largely aligned with Earnest transaction data trends outlined in our previous insights analyses.

In addition, foot traffic data can provide unique insight into how in-person consumer behavior is changing geographically across restaurants and retailers as well as casinos, theme parks, and hotels, all of which have unsurprisingly seen traffic fall dramatically. 

Read on for our latest analysis using foot traffic data.

Key Takeaways

  • Seeing a bottom across Retail and Dining. Retail and Dining have begun to stabilize and find a bottom at -15% and -25% YoY, respectively. Travel continues to fall into 60% declines.
  • Wide disparities within sectors. Within Retail, Home Improvement (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply) has continued to accelerate to 20%+ traffic growth, though other growth areas (i.e. Grocers and Big Box) have plateaued. Meanwhile, Apparel has seen a steep fall to -60%+.
  • New York and Nevada are the hardest hit. These states have seen roughly 40% declines across all sectors.
  • Shake Shack, Dunkin, and Dave & Buster’s among brands with >20% exposure to New York and Nevada. These companies are among the most exposed on a foot traffic basis to the hardest hit areas.

Retail and Dining Appear to Stabilize, Travel Continues to Fall

Grouping foot traffic into broad sectors, we see Entertainment and Travel remain among the hardest hit. The chart below illustrates YoY sector growth on a rolling 7-day basis since the middle of February. Travel includes hotels, airports, car rentals, and cruise ship ports. Entertainment includes theme parks, movie theaters, and sporting venues. Note that these sectors had already been growing the slowest in February’s “normal” environment and were also the first to fall off in early March.  Meanwhile, Retail and Dining appear to have stabilized at -15% and -25%, respectively.

Wide Disparities Within Sectors

Home Improvement Only Subsector that Has Seen Continued Acceleration

Within Retail, Home Improvement (Home Depot, Lowe’s, Tractor Supply) have accelerated to 20%+ traffic growth, though other growth subsectors (i.e. Grocers) have plateaued. Specifically, grocery stores (Kroger, Sprouts) and Big Box (Costco, Target) peaked in mid-March. Meanwhile, Apparel & Accessories (TJ Maxx, Shoe Carnival, Gap) foot traffic has seen a steep fall to -60%, in line with hotels. Subsectors that have essentially completely closed (casinos and theme parks) have unsurprisingly bottomed near -100%.

Individual Companies Largely Follow the Trends of their Subsector

With a few exceptions, company growth rates are very similar within their subsector. 

One of the interesting exceptions is Whole Foods, which saw double-digit foot traffic declines in the midst of a double-digit growing Grocers vertical. Earnest transaction data confirms that over the past month, all of Whole Foods’ growth came from ticket size (which foot traffic data doesn’t measure), while the number of transactions* continued to drop at an accelerating rate.

* Analysis excludes majority of Whole Foods’ online grocery orders

Geographically, New York and Nevada Seeing 40% Declines 

Looking at all sectors as a broad measure of total U.S. consumer foot traffic, we are seeing a stabilization at around -25% for the weeks ending March 28 and April 4.  In terms of specific States, Nevada and New York were among the hardest hit at roughly -40%. Only the District of Columbia saw a steeper impact at -60%.

Shake Shack, Dunkin, and Dave & Buster’s Among Brands with Highest Foot Traffic in NY and NV

Our foot traffic data can measure which brands are most exposed to the hardest-hit areas. Among dining brands, Shake Shack, Dunkin Donuts, and Dave & Buster’s are among the most exposed on a foot traffic basis to these areas. We outline the top restaurants with exposure to New York and Nevada below.

Appendix – list of merchants by vertical

Retail: 76, 7-Eleven, 99c Only, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, Academy Sports, Ace Hardware, Acme Markets, Advance Auto Parts, Ahold Delhaize, Aki Home Furniture, Albertsons, Aldi, Allsup’s, American Signature, AMPM, Apple Stores, Arco, Arcteryx, Arhaus, Ashley Furniture, At Home, AT&T, Autozone, Barneys New York, Bass Pro Shops, Basset Furniture, Bed Bath & Beyond, Belle Tire, Best Buy, Bevmo, BI-LO, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Big Lots, Big Y, Binnys Beverage Depot, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Bloomingdale’s, Bob’s Furniture, Boost Mobile, Boscov’s, BP, Burlington, Buy Buy Baby, Cabela’s, Carpet One, Carquest, Carter’s, CarToys, Casey’s General Store, Chevron, Circle K, Citgo, Columbia Sportswear, Conoco, Copps, Corner Store, Costco, Crate & Barrel, Cricket Wireless, Cub Foods, Cumberland Farms, CVS Pharmacy, David’s Bridal, Dearden’s Furniture, Designer Shoe Warehouse, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dillons Food Stores, Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Dressbarn, Duluth Trading, Eddie Bauer, Edwin Watts, Ethan Allen, Exxon, EzMart, Family Dollar, Famous Footwear, Farm Fresh, Firestone, Five Below, Floor & Decor, Fred Meyer, Fred’s, Fry’s, Gander Mountain, Gap, Gerber Collisions, Giant Food Stores, Golf Galaxy, Golf Mart, Golfers Warehouse, Golfsmith, Goodyear, Grocery Outlet, Gulf, H-E-B, Hannaford, Harris Teeter, Havertys, Hobby Lobby, Home Depot, HomeGoods, Hornbachers, Hy-Vee, Ikea, Independent Sporting Goods, J. Crew, JCPenney, Jerome’s Furniture, Jewel Osco, Jiffy Lube, Jo-Ann Fabrics, Jordan’s Furniture, King Soopers Supermarket, Kit and Ace, Kmart, Kohl’s, Kroger, Kum and Go, Kwik Shop, Kwik Trip, L.L.Bean, LA Mattress, La-Z-Boy, Last Chance, LensCrafters, Living Spaces Furniture, Loaf N Jug, Lord & Taylor, Love’s Travel Stops, Lovesac, Lowes, Lululemon Athletica, Lumber Liquidators, Macy’s, Marathon, Marianos, Marmot, Marshalls, Mattress Firm, Meijer, Menards, Metro Market, Metro PCS, Michaels, Midas, Moosejaw, Murphy, NAPA Auto Parts, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, O’Reilly Auto Parts, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Old Navy, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, Pandora, Patagonia, Pathmark, Payless ShoeSource, Pep Boys, Pet Supermarket, Pet Supplies Plus, Petco, PetSmart, PGA, Phillips 66, Pick ‘n Save, Pier 1 Imports, Piggly Wiggly, Pilot Flying J, Pottery Barn, Price Chopper, Publix, QuickCheck, Quik Stop, QuikTrip, Racetrac, Radio Shack, Ralphs, Raymour & Flanigan, REI, Restoration Hardware, Rite Aid, Roger Dunn, Rooms to Go, Ross Stores, Safeway, Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th, Sam’s Club, Sandiks, Save-A-Lot, Scheels, Schnucks, Sears, Sears Hardware, Sephora, Shaw’s, Sheetz, Shell, Sherwin Williams, Shoe Carnival, Shop N Save, Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, ShopRite, Sleep Number, Sleep Train, Sleepys, Slumberland, Smart & Final, Specs, Speedway, Sprint, Sprouts, Staples, Stop & Shop, Stripes, Sunoco, SuperValu, T-Mobile, TA, Target, Texaco, The Children’s Place, The Container Store, The North Face, Title Nine, TJ Maxx, Tops Friendly Markets, Total Wine, Tractor Supply, Trader Joes, True Value, Turkey Hill, Uinta, Ulta Beauty, Unleashed by Petco, Urban Home Furniture, Urban Outfitters, Valero, Value City, Valvoline, Vans Golf, Verizon Wireless, Walgreens, Walmart, Walmart Neighborhood Market, Wawa, Wegman’s, West Elm, Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma, Winn-Dixie, Woodmans Market, Xfinity

Travel: Alaska, Allegiant, American Airlines, Avis, Best Western, Budget, Budget Truck, Choice Hotels, Delta, Enterprise, Frontier, Hawaiian, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels, InterContinental Hotels Group, JetBlue, La Quinta, Marriott International, Penske Truck, Southwest, Spirit, Uhaul Truck, United, Virgin, Virgin America, Westjet, Wyndham Hotel & Resorts

Dining: A&W, Applebees, Arby’s, Baja Fresh, Baskin-Robbins, Beef O’Brady’s, Big Boy, Blimpie, Bob Evans, Bojangles’, Bonefish Grill, Boston Market, Buffalo Wild Wings, Burger King, California Pizza Kitchen, Carl’s Jr., Carrabba’s Italian Grill, Checkers, Chick-fil-A, Chilis, Chipotle, Chuck E. Cheese’s, Church’s Chicken, Cicis, Cracker Barrel, Culver’s, Dairy Queen, Dave and Buster’s, Del Taco, Dennys, Domino’s Pizza, Dunkin Donuts, El Pollo Loco, Erik’s Delicafe, Fazoli’s, Firehouse Subs, Five Guys, Friendly’s, Fuddruckers, Golden Corral, Green Burrito, Hardee’s, Hometown Buffet, Hooters, Huddle House, IHOP, In-N-Out Burger, Jack in the Box, Jamba Juice, Jason’s Deli, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Jimmy John’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, KFC, Krispy Kreme, Krystal, Little Ceasars, Lone Star Steakhouse, Long John Silvers, Longhorn Steakhouse, McDonald’s, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Noodle’s & Company, O’Charley’s, Old Country Buffet, Olive Garden, On the Border Mexican Grill, Outback Steakhouse, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Panda Express, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Peets, Pei Wei Asian Diner, Perkins, Piada, Pizza Hut, Popeyes, Potbelly, Qdoba, Quaker Steak & Lube, Quiznos, Raising Canes, Rally’s, Red Lobster, Red Robin, Romano’s Macaroni Grill, Ruby Tuesday, Ryan’s, Schlotzsky’s, Shake Shack, Smashburger, Sonic, Starbucks, Steak ‘n Shake, Subway, T.G.I. Friday’s, Taco Bell, Taco John’s, Texas Roadhouse, The Cheesecake Factory, Tim Hortons, Uno Pizzeria & Grill, Waffle House, Wendy’s, Whataburger, White Castle, Wingstop, Zaxby’s, Zoes KitchenEntertainment: AMF, 24 Hour Fitness, AMC Theaters, Anytime Fitness, Boyd Gaming, Caesars Entertainment, Carmike Cinema, Churchill Downs, Cinemark Theaters, Disneyland, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Disneyworld, Drive Shack, Eldorado Resorts, Empire Resorts, Equinox, Fitness 19, Full House Resorts, Golden Entertainment, LA Fitness, Las Vegas Sands, Lifetime Fitness, MGM Resorts, Monarch Casino & Resort, Penn National Gaming, Pinnacle Entertainment, Planet Fitness, Red Rock Resorts, Regal Cinema, SeaWorld, Six Flags, Snap Fitness, Topgolf, Town Sports, Tropicana Entertainment, UFC Gym, Universal Studios, World Gym, Wynn Resorts

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