While it’s fair to say that we’re far from out of the woods yet and things aren’t exactly “normal”, it would seem that many parts of the country have reached some sort of mid-pandemic equilibrium. For most of us, going to the grocery store no longer feels as dangerous as it did back in March— as long as you mask up and use some common sense, at least.
Because even a pandemic can’t stop people from eating food, it’s perhaps unsurprising that foot traffic at several major grocery stores finally returned to pre-pandemic levels by July. According to data from Placer.ai cited by Grocery Dive, major chains like Kroger, Publix, Albertson’s and Trader Joe’s have fully recovered from where they were in the earlier months of the pandemic, even seeing year-over-year growth in August 2020.
The news wasn’t great across the board, however. Whole Foods performed the worst of the eight brands analyzed by placer, showing that foot traffic was still down more than 22% in August 2020 compared to the prior year. That could largely be attributed to the Amazon-owned brand’s online grocery sales, which tripled during the second quarter of 2020.
Placer’s data collected over the course of the pandemic (so far) suggests that our grocery shopping habits have also shifted somewhat. As evidenced by data from both May and August, more visits are taking place before noon than before, with less happening during the evening hours when customers would normally be on their way home from work. Simultaneously, Fridays seem to be a more popular day for grocery shopping than ever, and grocery stores in urban business districts seem to be faring worse than their suburban counterparts.
There’s no doubt that consumer behavior will continue to shift and evolve, even after things become even more “normal.” But the good news for grocers is that, unsurprisingly, buying food hasn’t gone out of style.