Welcome to the 7th edition of the PlaceIQ Social Distance Tracker

As you might know, PlaceIQ is a New York based company. So, it especially heartens us to hear official reports that the worst might be almost over in our dear city. We’ll have to keep up social distancing for a while to keep it that way, but respite is respite and we’re ready to turn that corner.

From a foot traffic perspective we are, and remain, plateaued in all categories.

When we started planning this tracker, we envisioned three milestones we wanted to be ready to call out:

  • Preparing: How much will traffic spike, and where, once it becomes clear we’ll be affected by COVID-19? How long will it take for people to stock up?
  • Closure:  What will the foot traffic drop be for different businesses? How will these floors vary across regions? How long will it take us to find the floor?
  • Return: Where and when will we see traffic start to return? 


Below, we’ll dive into where we are in this process and how we’ve measured progress. And, in this week’s Thursday tracker, we’ll be mixing it up to keep it interesting for you. Rather than focusing on new data, we will look back at the past month and recount what we’ve learned. What are the principles that have emerged? What are the key facts that businesses need to keep in mind in order to help them reach the final and welcome milestone of return?

Today’s recap will be short and sweet. If, however, you’re pining for more of our usual data narratives, we just posted a blog post detailing how we can use our Dynamic Trade Areas dataset to quantify and predict the businesses most threatened by the work-from-home phenomenon. You can check it out here.

We are gratified to see our analyses being included in various reports, since it is our goal to contribute to the #dataforgood effort. If you choose to re-use one of our analysis, all we ask is that you attribute the analysis or content to PlaceIQ. Thank you!

Consumers Move Swiftly from Preparation to Closure Mode

The Preparing phase kicked off properly on 3/11 and ran for nine days. Traffic then steadily declined, at different rates for different categories, until the week of April 5th, when we note that traffic is holding stable across nearly all categories. We’ve arrived at the foot traffic floor.

To illustrate, take a look at the change versus pre-COVID norms in the retail industry:

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CHART: Retail Change vs. Pre-COVID by Category
Or the dining sector, which is still more steady:
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CHART: Dining Change vs. Pre-COVID by Category
Even non-essential businesses (or voluntarily avoided venues, like airports) have found their floor:
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CHART: Entertainment & Travel Change vs. Pre-COVID by Category

We are now fully in the Closure phase. The traffic businesses have is stable and predictable – and therefore ready for brands to plan against. This is certainly a shift we’re seeing in our client base and we welcome any questions you may have on how to implement foot traffic into your data strategy for planning ahead. 

Industry Traffic Metrics

Traffic metrics for retail, dining, pharmacy, auto, and more are available for download below. As confirmed above, traffic is consistent and has reached its floor. 

  • Retail traffic to Big Box and Pharmacy is still down 30-38%. 
  • Coffee Shop traffic remains down 50% compared to pre-COVID norms, while fast food is down 39% now.
  • Traffic to workplace offices is down 90% and staying there. 

Click below to download the charts, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your Account Manager if you have any questions about your vertical traffic or are looking for more granular insights.

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