Small Businesses Foot Traffic Thrives in Certain Categories

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There was a small business boom in 2021 with 5.4 million applications filed to start new companies. A recent survey by Mint found that 55% of consumers shopped in-store at local businesses while 30% did not shop local. Towards the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, big brands saw more growth than small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). But, this is shifting again as more consumers continue to value pricing and convenience. Both small businesses and big brands across various industries have had their share of challenges in the past few years. We compared foot traffic to small businesses versus major brands to determine which types of businesses performed the best in each category.

Small Business & Brand Foot Traffic by Category

In which categories did big brands significantly outperform small businesses? Big brands performed the best in the Entertainment – General category; foot traffic in January 2022 was 32% higher than in January 2021. Large Accommodations-related brands also saw foot traffic increase more than mom-and-pop hotel businesses. How did small businesses do in comparison? Small businesses fared better than major brands in the categories of Banking and Finance (-16%), Restaurants and Food (-11%), Services (-13%), Shopping (-13%), and especially Transportation (+19%). The only categories in which small businesses didn’t outperform big brands were Accommodations, Entertainment – General, and Automobile.

small business foot traffic

Small Business & Brand Foot Traffic by City

Among the cities analyzed, Orlando stands out in terms of foot traffic to both small businesses and big brands. In January 2022, foot traffic to small businesses in Orlando was 31% higher while traffic to big brands was 14% higher than in January 2021. At the other end of the spectrum, foot traffic in Brooklyn was down for both big brands and—to a lesser extent—small businesses. Like Orlando, Nashville, San Diego, and St. Louis saw foot traffic to small businesses grow significantly in 2021. Across the board, small businesses outperformed big brands in almost every city. Why could this be the case? There has been a recent resurgence of small business support in the wake of the pandemic.

small business foot traffic by city

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Small Business & Brand Foot Traffic by State

In January 2022, visits to small businesses in D.C., were 16% higher than in January 2021. California and Nevada also saw more visits to small businesses in January 2022. Businesses in New York and many other states saw less foot traffic regardless of type. Foot traffic to big brands and small businesses in New York state in January 2022 was 29% and 19% lower, respectively, than in January of the previous year. The decline in foot traffic at small businesses and big brands between January 2021 and 2022 may have been due to the emergence of the omicron variant. Despite this decline, small businesses outperformed their big brand counterparts on the whole.

small business foot traffic by state

What’s Next for Small Businesses and Big Brands?

Based on our data, both small business and big brand foot traffic recovery varies by city, state, and business category. Foot traffic patterns will continue to change as vaccinations increase and coronavirus mandates are lifted; however, consumers aren’t necessarily going to change their shopping and going out habits right away. Businesses will need to adapt with up-to-date competitive and customer intelligence derived from foot traffic data.

To learn how foot traffic data can be applied in your business, book a meeting with us today.


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