How the crisis situation affected visits to commercial locations?

For 16 weeks, starting from February 3rd, we collected and analyzed location data from four categories of retail outlets: hypermarkets (442 locations), discount stores (3,976 locations), supermarkets (2,538 locations) and small local stores (10,136 locations). In total, by May 31st, we examined the number of visits to 17,092 retail-related places.

Selectivv. How the crisis situation affected visits to commercial locations?

Visits to retail locations did not return to their pre-epidemic level

Analyzing trends in visiting retail outlets based on the entire sample, we can see that the declines began in the 8th week of 2020. We note that this was the moment when information about the Covid-19 epidemic spread in Italy began to appear in Poland very frequently.

So far (as of May 31st), retail locations visits have not returned to their pre-epidemic levels. Its lowest level throughout the entire analysis period was noted in the 12th week of the year (March 20th – the state of epidemic in Poland) and on the 16th (subsequent to Easter). From the 18th week (27 April – 3 May), we have been observing an increase in the number of visits, which we believe will continue in the coming weeks.

Even more interesting conclusions come when we look at the differences in individual categories of stores.

Hypermarkets have seen the biggest drops, but are catching up fast

In the case of hypermarkets, the declines were greatest. Comparing weeks 7th (March 10th-16th) and 12th (March 16th-22th) we observe a sevenfold change. This is mainly due to the closure of shopping malls in which a significant number of hypermarkets are located. This fact is confirmed by achieving the lowest visiting rates between weeks 12th (from March 16th) and 18th (up to May 3rd), in the period when only pharmacies, drugstores, laundries and grocery stores operated in shopping malls. This may indicate that relatively few people visit shopping centers with the only purpose to buy groceries, but only do them by the way. In addition, after opening shopping malls (May 4th), we observed a very dynamic increase in the number of visitors leading to overtaking in the ranking of both local stores and supermarkets. This trend is continuing due to the increasing popularity of shopping centers.

We usually shopped at discount stores

Based on the data from the analyzed period, we can see that discount stores were the most frequently visited commercial location category. The exceptions are weeks 12th and 16th, when the results of their visits were equal to those of local stores. It was in these two weeks that we recorded the largest decreases in discount store visits. Week 15th is interesting, where the level of discount visits has returned to pre-Covid-19 numbers. It was the pre-Easter period and traffic increased in most retail outlets. According to our data, discount stores were its biggest beneficiary. The latest data also show a decrease in visits at week 20th ( May 11th-17th), which may be associated with a dynamic increase in the rate for hypermarkets. We can conclude from this that a change in consumer habits forced by the epidemiological situation partly returns to the previous state, i.e. we return to shopping in large stores.

Local stores were not the largest beneficiaries

A characteristic of data related to local stores is the relatively flattened slope curve. We do not observe such large fluctuations as in the other categories. Only during the week 12th visitors to small local stores were more than at discount stores. However, at week 16th they were at almost the same level. It is worth noting that in week 19th (after the May Weekend), local branches were overtaken in terms of the visitors’ number by hypermarkets. On week 21st and 22th we see declines in small stores visits.

Supermarkets overtaken by other categories – even before Easter

Supermarkets visit’ number between 12th and 14th weeks of the current year exceeded the number of hypermarket visitors in the ranking, but was the smallest in the entire analyzed period. A very characteristic period was week 15th (Easter), when the category of supermarkets was the only one not to see an increase in visits, but even a decrease.

Return to pre-epidemic visits’ levels will take some time, if occurs at all

To sum up, during the analyzed period fluctuations in trade outlets visits were visible, which in most cases were closely correlated with characteristic events such as the development of a pandemic in Italy, restrictions announced in Poland, Easter and gradual defrosting of the economy. As Selectivv, we will constantly observe market trends, but it seems that a full return to pre-epidemic levels will take some time, if occurs at all (primarily due to uncertainty related to the state of the economy in the coming months).

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