Compared with the same period last year, in-store foot traffic is up 12.5%, according to recent data from Small Business Trends, with foot traffic increasing by 28.5% from January to March. The rise in foot traffic was likely jump-started by the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which began in late 2020.
Going forward, there could be a bigger jump in foot traffic as consumers plan springtime shopping sprees. Sixty-two percent of consumers plan to shop in-store at least once per week, according to a March 2021 report by The Harris Poll. And just how much they spend depends in part on how well the COVID-19 vaccine rollout goes: 61% of households with incomes over $100,000 say that vaccine distribution has at least some influence on their spending plans this year. Coronavirus stimulus payments coupled with last year’s increase in cash savings will likely also drive springtime brick-and-mortar spending, especially with COVID-19 vaccine eligibility expanding to all US adults by May 1.
Merchants should take advantage of consumers’ anticipated return to brick-and-mortar stores with upgraded offerings that create better shopping experiences, which help drive repeat visits.
- Emphasizing new retail technologies can create a more seamless shopping experience. Autonomous checkout tech like Amazon’s Just Walk Out solution and smart cart technology such as Caper’s have sprung up during the pandemic as merchants try to make the in-store shopping experience more seamless. These technologies will likely play an important role in brick-and-mortar retail—the pandemic has made consumers more conscious of how they shop and pay, which may make them more likely to shop at stores that have this technology.
- Giving consumers more reasons to visit stores should help boost traffic. Large retailers like Walmart and Target have tried to make their stores more appealing to shoppers by partnering with outside brands to bring mini storefronts inside their stores. Target recently began carving out retail space to Apple, Levi’s, and Ulta products, and Walmart recently teamed up with Saladworks to bring the salad eatery chain to its superstores as well as with Western Union to give consumers in-store remittance services. These offerings give consumers more incentives to shop in-store, which should help retailers increase revenue—historically, the majority of overall sales volume has come from brick-and-mortar.