Impact of Coronavirus on Businesses: COVID-19 Recovery Update

How are industries faring? Foursquare’s latest data shows which industries are rebounding and which are trailing.

Justin Taylor

Foursquare has been monitoring the impact of the pandemic on businesses across industries for over a year. The figures in this article demonstrate the analysis of indexed foot traffic to various locations, using rolling 7-day averages to account for fluctuations in foot traffic by day of the week. Visits are projected based on user profile representation relative to census. Survey data referenced above is derived from a survey of consumers in Foursquare’s always-on panel, delivered via owned and operated mobile apps (panel app) in April 2021.

So, what’s the latest in foot traffic data insights?

As U.S. vaccination rates continue to rise (~39% of Americans had been fully vaccinated as of May 14) and business regulations loosen, we continue to see shifts in foot traffic to various places.

Here are some of the top trends we’re seeing in the data (last updated May 14, 2021):

  • Gas station foot traffic surges – Gas stations have continued to see a significant rise in foot traffic this past week due to observed shortages across the country. Gas station traffic has continued to pick up most in the Midwest & Northeast (up +24-28% as of May 13 2021), surpassing traffic levels last summer in both regions.
  • Hosting social gatherings in the Northeast – Consumers in the Northeast may be hosting more social gatherings (such as BBQs) at home as the weather improves. Foot traffic to liquor stores remains up most in the Northeast (+29%) as of May 14 (vs. being up only +11-19% across other regions).
  • Gearing up for another summer of local travel & road trips – Convenience store & gas station traffic has continued to gradually rise in recent months, indicating that more Americans are hitting the road again as summer approaches. 57% of survey respondents reportedly intend to travel by car during their next trip, while 61% of survey respondents are planning to travel within their current region. Though airport traffic has continued to pick up more notably in recent weeks, only 33% of survey respondents intend to travel by plane, and only 14% of respondents intend to travel to another country.
  • Brief uptick in movie theater traffic following The Oscars – Movie theaters saw a brief uptick in foot traffic around the time the Oscar nominations were announced, and again in late April following the award show, indicating that some movie fans are eager to return to theaters. However, movie theater traffic still remains down -63% nationally as of May 14 2021.

Here are some of our most recent topline findings by category:

  • Alcohol: Liquor store traffic has continued to steadily rise in recent weeks, still up +18% nationally (and up +29% in the Northeast) as of May 14 2021. Meanwhile, traffic to bars has returned to nearly normal levels again, down only -7% nationally (and up +2% in the Midwest) as of May 14 2021.
  • Airports: Foot traffic to airports has continued to pick up even more notably in recent weeks, down only -28% nationally as of May 14. Airport visits remain down most in the Northeast (-45%) and have continued to pick up most in the West and South (down only -23-25%) as of May 14.
  • Beauty / Self-Care: Foot traffic to nail salons had started to pick up slightly in recent weeks (up 2% nationally), while visits to hair salons & barbershops were down only -3% nationally as of May 14.
  • Grocery: Foot traffic to grocery store chains like Kroger and Publix remains fairly normal (down only -3% nationally as of May 14 2021).
  • Essential Retail: Foot traffic to convenience and warehouse stores remains up +1-7% nationally, while visits to big box and discount stores remain slightly down (only -4-8% nationally) as of May 14.
  • Casual Dining: Visits to casual dining chains like Applebee’s and IHOP have continued to gradually rise in recent weeks, though still down -22% nationally as of May 14. 66% of survey respondents who visited a CDR in April reportedly dined indoors.
  • Fast Food: Foot traffic to fast food chains like Taco Bell and Subway has remained fairly stable in recent weeks, down only -3% nationally as of May 14. QSR visits have continued to pick up most in the Midwest & Northeast in recent weeks, while QSR visits have declined slightly across other regions.
  • Entertainment: Movie theaters saw a brief uptick in traffic in early April following the 2020 Oscar nominations, and again in late April following the award show. Theater visits are still down -63% nationally as of May 14.
  • Financial Services: Foot traffic to banks has continued to fluctuate throughout the pandemic, down -15% nationally as of May 14 2021.
  • Fitness: Foot traffic to gyms & fitness centers has continued to gradually rise since the start of the new year, though remains down -27% nationally as of May 14 2021. Gym visits have picked up most in the South (down only -19% as of May 14).
  • Hardware: Visits to hardware stores have remained elevated since the pandemic began and have started to pick up even more in some regions in recent weeks. Hardware store traffic was still up +52% nationally (and up +71-81% in the Northeast & Midwest) as of May 14.
  • Hotels: Foot traffic to hotels has continued to steadily rise in recent months, down only -11% nationally (and up +5% in the Midwest) as of May 14 2021.
  • Pets: Foot traffic to pet stores remains elevated, up +14% nationally as of May 14.
  • Retail: Clothing store and shopping mall traffic remains slightly below normal levels, still down -22% nationally as of May 14 2021. Visits to home/furniture stores has also remained fairly stable in recent weeks, down -11% nationally as of May 14 2021.
  • Telecom: Visits to wireless carrier stores have continued to fluctuate in recent weeks – still down -16% nationally as of May 14 (though down only -4% in the Midwest).

Want to learn more about how to use foot traffic data to better understand consumer behaviors? Contact us using the form below.