LOS ALTOS, CALIF. — While the pandemic lowered instore foot traffic throughout 2020, more shoppers came into the store to complete their holiday grocery shopping, coming close to matching 2019 traffic.  

Data from Placer.ai took a look at seven top supermarket chains nationwide and saw an average year-over-year decline of just 2.5% on December 23rd and 1.1% on December 24th. 

“Those numbers are especially impressive, considering they are being compared to very high performing days from 2019,” said Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing for Placer.ai. “And, in fact, if we remove Trader Joe’s, the non-traditional grocer among the group, those numbers improve significantly to an average 0.9% decline on the 23rd and a 1.0% increase on the 24th.”

The year ended strongly with overall foot traffic improving at all seven chains compared to previous months in 2020. The average weekly year-over-year visit change for the seven brands was up 2.5%, the best it has been for this collective group since August.  

Albertsons saw its 2020 end with visits up 4.8% for the year, while Publix and Kroger ended with visits up 5.8% and 1%, respectively. 

Distinctions between the brands are also evident in the data, Mr. Chernofsky pointed out. The two days leading into Christmas ranked as some of the strongest of 2020 for Albertsons, Publix, Kroger, Wegmans and Giant. But for Trader Joe’s and Sprouts, they were far less important in the overall scheme. For example, while the 23rd and 24th were the 5th and 2nd most trafficked days for Publix nationwide, they were only the 18th and 209th most trafficked for Trader Joe’s. 

“The takeaways here are important as they further deepen the divide between the ‘do-it-all’ traditional grocer and the niche player,” Mr. Chernofsky said. “Critically, this doesn’t mean that the ‘niches’ are all that small. Wholesale clubs and Trader Joe’s themselves have proven that there is a huge market for brands that don’t check all of the boxes for a standard supermarket trip. Nonetheless, it does give a potentially significant boost to the brands that do, as the continuation of certain trends including a shift to grocery at the expense of restaurants is expected in 2021.”