Not all grocers have seen unprecedented growth during the pandemic. New data from Placer.ai analyzes the pedestrian traffic patterns of the 14 largest grocery brands and finds that only the three traditional family-oriented grocers – Albertsons, Winn-Dixie and Meijer – saw an increase in pedestrian traffic from March to September. All other grocery brands on the list saw a negative year-over-year decline over the same period.
Albertsons and Winn-Dixie saw the most impressive year-over-year growths, with pedestrian traffic increasing 6.1% and 6.8% respectively. Meijer recorded a nominal increase of 0.8% in pedestrian traffic compared to the previous year. Other traditional grocers saw only minor decreases in pedestrian traffic. For example, Kroger saw pedestrian traffic decrease 1.5%, while Walmart Neighborhood Market and Safeway saw pedestrian traffic decrease 2.9% and 2.6%, respectively.
Albertsons in particular has shown its resilience to the pandemic. In June, the brand was already seeing a 17.5% increase in pedestrian traffic and saw further growth in pedestrian traffic through September. While Albertsons outperformed its peers, four grocery brands have followed a similar growth pattern. In addition to Albertsons, Publix, H-E-B and Kroger saw heavy pedestrian traffic in March, followed by a valley in April and an improvement in pedestrian traffic patterns through September.
However, specialty grocery chains saw the biggest drop in foot traffic. Whole Foods Market and Trader Joe & # 39; s saw double digit declines of 33.2% and 16.4%, respectively, from March through September. The Sprouts Farmers Market saw a 9.3% decrease in pedestrian traffic.
In addition, these brands also displayed different patterns through the pandemic. Whole Foods and Trader Joes, generally among the top 10 food brands visited in the country, saw a dramatic drop in visits in the first half of April, with visits dropping by 60%. Trader Joes then saw a rapid spike in traffic over the summer while Whole Foods recovered more slowly. One reason for this is the customer's loyal shopping behavior. Trader Joe kept all of his loyal customers through the pandemic while Whole Foods saw a drop in customer loyalty. In addition, both brands typically rely on customers willing to travel further afield to shop in-store. During the pandemic, the further customers were in a trading zone, the decline in Whole Foods visits. The opposite was true for Trader Joes, as customers were more willing to go a further distance.
A bulletproof asset class
Overall, however, the successes of grocery stores have led to successes for neighboring retailers. According to a report by Moody & # 39; s Analytics REIS Grocery stores have helped stabilize rents in neighborhood centers. As a result, US retail rents in neighborhood and community malls fell only 0.5% to 0.6% during the pandemic.
On a podcast, said Melina Cordero, an executive director who leads CBRE's American capital markets business that the segments anchored in the grocery store can be "a bulletproof class" that we "will actually see some compression in the cap rate in the coming months".