Restaurant foot traffic is ticking-up heading into autumn of 2021, but what’s the lingering damage versus the pre-COVID trend, and can recent short term gains sustain through the end of the year to create mid term strength heading into 2022? Unacast studied restaurant foot traffic across the US for the period of June 1 to August 21, 2021 to find out.
Long term trends
While the macro long term trend for restaurant foot traffic is -3.78% nationally, there is great disparity between the performance of different states. 22 states, in fact, demonstrate positive long term growth rates since March 2020; these states tend to be concentrated in the northeast, central and northwest.
11 states have experienced a decline of at least 10% since March of 2020. DC is by far the hardest hit, with a whopping -56.07% decline in restaurant foot traffic. New York is not far behind at -34.92%, with California, Nevada and Massachusetts rounding out the bottom five.
Notably, much of the Great Lakes border region, including Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and New York show higher than average long term foot traffic loss; certainly this is influenced by the ongoing closure of the Canadian border during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mid term trends
Only three states show a positive midterm foot traffic trend in the restaurant category: Hawaii, New York and California. This is notable as all three are also among greatest losers for long term traffic. The national average of -1.95% is fed by the remaining states all demonstrating negative growth in the midterm.
The short term trend reverses itself in the northeast, where Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, all of which are doing well in the long term, now flip to become the three biggest foot traffic losers in the midterm, each losing four to 5% from late July to Late August 2021.
A quick glance at the midterm heat map also shows concentrated relative weakness in the eastern and southeastern portions of the nation. Midterm weakness is also noted in some of the northern states that show strength on the long term trend.
Short term trends
Heading into the end of August 2021, short term foot traffic (trailing two weeks), was positive across the country. Nationally, the average was a gain of 2.4%. No state recorded a negative trend in this time frame.
The five fastest growing states for restaurant foot traffic in the measured period were Hawaii (4.52%), Utah (4.05%), Missouri (4.05%), Arkansas (3.86%) and Iowa (3.94%). A glance at the map reveals relative strength in the midwest and central states.
Beyond Wyoming (.55%), the slowest growing states were concentrated in the northeast: Vermont (0.0%), Connecticut (.54%), New Hampshire (.89%) and Maine (.73%). The District of Columbia, which has struggled mightily since the onset of COVID-19, saw a short term rise in restaurant foot traffic of 1.04% in late August.
While the short term data looks promising, there is far too much instability remaining in the market to make long term prognosis for restaurant foot traffic recovery. No state has grown consistently over all three measured periods (short term, midterm and long term), but 23 have grown in both the short term and long term. Truly, it is the uncertainty as to foot traffic heading into autumn of 2021 that makes the forward-looking midterm so difficult to predict.
The data presented here is meant to provide topline indicators of what human mobility data can tell us about the restaurant industry. Unacast can help you go much deeper and empower you to use this data to inform site selection, competitive analysis and more.
Venue Data -- What you can do with it?
Our Venue Data Package lets you view visitation to venues so that you can understand:
- Brand or Venue Fidelity - How loyal are visitors?
- Visitor Profiling - What is the demographic make-up of visitors?
- Site Performance - How many people visit my venue?
- Competitive Intelligence -How does my visitation compare to competitors?
How you can use it?
The Venue Data Package helps you understand visitation to venues by calculating:
- Visitation Counts - Daily, Weekly, Monthly visit counts to venues.- Capture Rate & Area Visitation
- Area foot traffic and percent visitation out of total area traffic.
- Visitor Demographics - Income, educational attainment, age, gender, and race/ethnicity profiles of visitations to a venue.- Visitation Distributions
- Venue visitation patterns by hour, day, hour & day, and median dwell time.
- Trade Area - Distribution of distance from home and work to venue, and home/work origins of traffic.
- Cross Visitation - Visitor visitation to top Venues, Brands, and Categories.