Welcome to the PlaceIQ Social Distance Tracker. 

It’s been awhile since we’ve checked in. Once again, we’ve been hard at work briefing leadership teams on the macro and micro trends we’re seeing regarding consumers’ reactions to COVID in preparation for the holiday season and 2022. If you’d like to step through our learnings with us or have further questions about the data in this newsletter, please reach out. We’d greatly enjoy sharing our insights with you.

🗣️ Today we’re launching a new feature on our website: live charts of our reemergence data, at the category and national level.

Following your feedback, these charts are interactive, allowing you to focus on an individual category and view individual data points in time. They’re also live, updating every day with a four day lag. And, they’re portable. If you want to share a chart just click the ‘Download Image’ link in the bottom left corner and you’re off.

These charts visualize our Reemergence Score, which is a ratio comparing foot traffic on a given day to the same calendar week and weekday from 2019. A score of 1.0 means a category is precisely at its 2019 levels for a given day, or back to “normal.”

Wondering if Hotel Traffic took a dip last weekend?  We hope you’ll check that out on the new page and bookmark it for future reference. Already we’re seeing people return to it frequently to stay on top of COVID’s influence in the market.

Today we’ll be highlighting a few stories we’ve been following, using the Reemergence charts. Foot traffic was surprisingly resilient in the face of Delta, but a few outliers illustrate the complexities still present in the market.

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!

Case Counts Appear to Be Driving New Vaccinations

The data shows people began to react to Delta around July 4th. That reaction mirrored a pattern we observed last summer: when cases rise following a period of low cases and foot traffic growth, growth ceases but foot traffic remains stable. Take a look at the difference between foot traffic scores in June (gray) compared to August (purple):

For nearly every category traffic was unchanged from June to August, despite mounting COVID cases driven by the Delta variant. There’s only one big outlier and that’s pharmacies, which boosted traffic by 13%. In fact, traffic to drug stores hit a high over 40%+ their 2019 averages in August, driven strongly by increased vaccination rates:

We expect pharmacy traffic to go up as more people get sick, but here the correlation with increased vaccination rates is very apparent. In the first wave of vaccinations, volume was distributed amongst doctor’s offices, hospitals, mass vaccination sites, and drug stores. But when the second, albeit smaller, curve of vaccinations rose as Delta settled in we see pharmacies absorbing the demand — since the ad-hoc sites from the Spring were largely closed.

We know this wave of vaccinations was largely driven by Delta. As cases surged in areas they previously hadn’t hit and people’s empirical awareness of COVID rose, the areas hit hardest by Delta caseloads saw the greatest rate of change:

We can see this rise and fall clearly in context using the PlaceIQ Reemergence charts, live on our website:

Pharmacy foot traffic took off as vaccines became available to the public, tracking nicely along with the first wave. But as initial distribution sites closed, vaccine demand driven by Delta forced people to find shots almost entirely at drug stores throughout the Summer. 

The Delta wave of cases, thankfully, appears to have crested — as has new demand for inoculations. The silver lining of the Delta wave, as terrible as it was, is that 35 states have now fully vaccinated at least 50% of their populations. At the beginning of August only 21 states had met this milestone. These figures will help to keep hospitalizations in check throughout Q4, whatever case wave may come. 

Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to highlight stories we find in these Reemergence charts. If you notice something you’d like us to investigate, please drop us a line. Bookmark our new page and check back regularly to better understand COVID’s impact on foot traffic throughout the season.

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