The D.C. Hobby Hot Spot With 460% Traffic Growth

Recent investigation into supply chain impact on retail industries showed the Hobby industry performed above-average in 2020 pandemic heights compared to other sectors. Consumers invested more time and money into arts and crafting as they were stuck at home and learning new skills.

But how is the Hobby industry performing with restrictions easing and Americans returning to work? 

Michael's Stores, Hobby Lobby, and Jo-Ann Stores are the three largest arts, craft, and hobby purveyors in the United States. All saw monumental traffic drops in April 2020 at the peak of COVID-19.

Hobby Lobby lost 93% of its traffic within two months.

But all three brands recovered in the Christmas season, and the recovery exceeded traffic numbers pre-pandemic.

The 93% traffic loss for Hobby Lobby accelerated to a 24% traffic gain by December 2020.

There was another traffic peak in March 2021 for all three brands, but overall, traffic's normalized to pre-pandemic figures. We'll call this a pandemic effect. COVID restrictions forced people indoors, many laid off with little to do except occupy their time. But the traffic return seen for the Hobby business is significant compared to other industries, like Electronics, which have not returned to pre-pandemic traffic levels.

Hobby's here to stay.

Check out our Tableau map below to see where. If you're on a mobile phone, hold your screen horizontal for optimal views

A Michaels on the outskirts of the D.C. city center saw a nearly 500% increase in foot traffic since June 2021 with no signs of slowing.

Why this store? It's the closest to the city center compared to other hobby locations. D.C.'s also had an indoor mask mandate since July 29, 2021, potentially extending pandemic interest in hobby lobbying.

Speaking of Hobby Lobby...their Oklahoma traffic is also skyrocketing. Peak locations are in Ponca City and Muskogee, cities north and south of larger Tulsa with no competitor brands in the area.

One Hobby Lobby location saw a 74% traffic increase since January 2021.

Arkansas is another rising star for the brand. Overall, Hobby Lobby's cheaper, and it's the only hobby brand in history with a landmark Supreme Court case under its belt as well, perhaps an appeal for Arkansas residents.

We did notice a few flat-lined states overall.

New Hampshire, Maine, and Montana didn't experience the distinct March 2021 peak of other locations. Did ski season propel consumers to the slopes instead of the stores? 

Ohio, Michigan, and Washington, meanwhile, have seen dragging traffic since their own March 2021 traffic peaks. It appears the 2021 Christmas season offered slight boosts for all three states, but our three focus brands should take note of where hobby interest remains below pre-pandemic levels and explore reasons why this may be.

Here's a look at distance traveled for all three brands: 

People travel the farthest for Hobby Lobby, with Jo-Ann not far behind.

Michael's has the lowest average travel distance, suggesting they might be best positioned to local traffic overall, or present in higher-population areas where residents live closer to stores.

A Hobby Lobby in Yuma County, Arizona draws visitors from an average distance of 260 km away, and the same goes for Pettis County, Missouri, where consumers travel on average 255 km.

Hobby Lobby's also the most dominant U.S. brand overall, especially in the middle states. Brand research shows Hobby Lobby is slightly cheaper compared to Michael's, and Jo-Ann's is known the most for fabric over general craft. Hobby Lobby may have the right combination of variety and price point to win total traffic.

Takeaways

1) The Hobby industry has made a pandemic recovery in total foot traffic. Americans identified a need for arts and craft during the peak 2020 COVID months, and though Hobby Lobby, Michael's Stores, and Jo-Ann Stores didn't maintain the highest levels of COVID traffic compared to other industries, their consumers are still hobby shopping as if COVID never happened.

2) Hobby Lobby appears to have the greatest brand loyalty. Consumers travel the farthest to reach a Hobby Lobby, and the brand's a winner of total traffic.

3) Specific stores in Washington D.C., Oklahoma, and Arkansas are seeing rising traffic since the summer between Michael's and Hobby Lobby. Further research is needed to pinpoint exactly why these locations became hobby hot spots, but they're worth the attention of their parent companies.

There's no limit on the pandemic effects to explore. There have been new trends for sporting goods, gas stations, and pharmacies. Schedule a meeting or talktous@unacast.com and learn how foot traffic data can assist with competitive intelligence, site selection, forecasting, and revenue prediction.

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