A New & Improved Retail Impact Scoreboard

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This blog post was co-authored with my colleague and super star data scientist, Jan Benetka.

Since we’ve launched our Retail Impact Scoreboard, users across all industries (such as Retail, Real Estate, Government & Supply Chain experts) have used our dashboard to understand commercial impact across a variety of geographies and retail types.

In the past weeks, we believe we’ve become older and (hopefully!) wiser. With our learnings, we’ve implemented a few upgrades to the Retail Impact Scoreboard to make it even more useful.

What Matters Now? Looking Beyond Impact To Recovery

As states begin to reopen in the United States, challenges abound for retailers, landlords, and governing bodies. They are struggling to understand:

  • What does recovery actually look like in the real world?
  • How have people’s behaviors changed compared to pre-COVID19 and how do they respond accordingly?
  • What areas or what industries are going to return to pre-COVID19 levels before others? 
  • How far away from recovery are we? Based on the rate of recovery, do we have sufficient lead time to plan for reopenings?
  • What areas might exceed pre-COVID19 levels and are we prepared to address those heightened activity levels?
  • Conversely, what industries or regions are at risk of a slow recovery or never recovering? How do we help those economies?

In order to tackle these important questions, we realize that tracking change in foot traffic to last year is no longer enough to understand important behaviors. That is why we are now introducing a new feature to our Scoreboard. This metric is extremely important in understanding which areas / industries are rapidly recovering and how far they are from recovery.

With this new feature, we now turn our attention to which industries and areas are experiencing an increase in foot traffic. By looking at short term, medium term, and long term trends, our recovery rate metric shows how quickly an industry / state is “recovering”.

We define each time period as:

  • Long-term trend: all days since February 1st
  • Mid-term trend:  most recent 4 weeks
  • Short-term trend:  most recent 2 weeks

Our recovery analysis evaluates long/ mid /short-term trends by measuring the magnitude of the trend and it's most recent momentum. We use a linear regression to determine the recovery trendline in the defined time period.

Recovery Rate Insights

Average per-venue visitation starts off very similar before Covid, but then, Alaska picks up much faster than others.
From this view, it is interesting to see that Clothing & Accessories plummeted as a result of COVID19 in the early weeks; as a result, gained velocity days in recent days

Recovery Speed Rankings

Short-term recovery speed (per state)

Fastest speed of recovery
Slowest speed of recovery

Mid-term recovery speed (per state)

Fastest speed of recovery
Slowest speed of recovery

Short-term recovery speed (per industry)

Fastest speed of recovery
Slowest speed of recovery

Mid-term recovery speed (per industry)

Fastest speed of recovery
Slowest speed of recovery

Redefined Foot Traffic Impact

In addition to our new recovery speed metric, you might notice that our year-over-year foot traffic comparison got a new coat of paint.

Previously, we were covering the change in foot traffic from 2020 to 2019 by aggregating all foot traffic for venues of a given category. While our points-of-interest coverage is quite comprehensive (we have coverage for the top 4,000 brands in the United States), it is by no means 100% complete. Therefore, the absolute numbers of visitation in our data represents only visitation for the points-of-interests in our database and is probably underestimating the actual traffic. 

Because our impact metric compares the change in visitation from 2020 to 2019, its usefulness is not dependent on the actual visitation number. Nevertheless, we believed that we can further improve on this impact metric. As a result, instead of measuring absolute foot traffic from 2020 to 2019, we have changed our impact metric to now measure average visitation per venue by category. Not only is this metric unaffected by the number of points-of-interests, it also highlights the differences in venue visitation for a given category. 

Home Goods & Improvement

With states reopening, we start to see industries light up on our Scoreboard, perhaps none more so than “Home Goods & Improvement.”

We can see that 2020 Home Goods & Improvement visitation never fell that far from its 2019 levels; the lowest drop was on April 12th (Easter weekend) and visitation quickly rebounded after that. It helps that Home Goods & Improvement locations were some of the only categories considered “essential” in many states and remained open throughout the crisis.

What is surprising is that Home Goods & Improvement actually increased even more within the last two weeks. In fact, as of May 11th, 2020, the category is currently up +4% to 2019 levels. 

Some states in the South and Midwest are even experiencing increases of between +25% and +35%.

Grocery & Food Retail

Grocery & Food Retail venues saw a more tepid response. While certain states in the Midwest experienced an increase to 2019, overall the foot traffic is still below 2019 levels. Foot traffic reached a high on May 8th when 2020 levels exceeded 2019 levels; since then the traffic has been steadily declining. Despite this, the difference between 2020 and 2019 traffic is getting smaller, showing an upward trend towards recovery. 


Travel & Hospitality

Without surprise, Travel and Hospitality plummeted as a result of COVID19 and does not show any signs of improvement. 

Interested in more? We are here to help!

The industry highlights above are a small window into what kinds of knowledge retailers can glean from Unacast’s location data. A few others include:

  • Competitive Intelligence: how post-outbreak visitation patterns of competitive brands.
  • Cross-visitations: which other brands and store types your customers frequent, and how that’s changed since the outbreak
  • Redefined Local Trade Area: how your trade area is being redefined in terms of distances customers will travel to get to your store, and how that changes marketplace understanding
  • Targeted Recovery Indicators: Shows which retail categories are seeing an uptick in visitations when recovery begins.

Moreover, when you combine Unacast’s location data with other data sets in your tech stack, you will get an even fuller picture of the present moment and a better idea of what the future holds. Our other datasets such as our Venue Data Package will provide even more granular indicators. We are also soon launching our Recovery Tool, which will show activity levels by neighborhoods as people begin to engage in society once again. By understanding the overall return in human movement to a given area, we can derive precursors for potential industry-specific recovery.

Contact us to find the right solution for your needs. 


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