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New Insights From Gravy Analytics Reveal Consumers Are Prioritizing Entertainment and Value Shopping Over Vacations and Outdoor Recreation

The company’s Q3 Consumer Trends Report highlights which industries are open and back to normal, and which are lagging behind

Gravy Analytics, the leading provider of enterprise location intelligence, released its Q3 Consumer Trends Report, which analyzed foot traffic data across a variety of locations from Q3 2021 to Q3 2022 to see how consumer behavior has changed across industries. Foot traffic increased to entertainment, shopping, and business venues while decreasing significantly in the accommodations, outdoor recreation, and automobile categories. The data reveals that while most of the world is back open again, not all businesses are back to normal amid ongoing challenges related to the pandemic, inflation, and supply chain constraints.

Shopping and entertainment soar while outdoor recreation declines

Gravy’s latest report reveals in-person shopping is back with a vengeance as consumers are once again enjoying the social experience of shopping at a mall and leisurely browsing through stores. Foot traffic to shopping destinations was 15% higher during Q3 2022 compared to Q3 2021, and department stores (49%), outlet malls (38%), and malls (37%) saw the biggest increases in foot traffic during the period.

The entertainment category also saw substantial increases in foot traffic as consumers looked to enjoy a night out on the town or at a local sporting event. Visits to both general entertainment and nightlife venues were up 18% and 11%, respectively, in Q3 2022 compared to last year. Visits to arenas and stadiums increased by 90%, indicating that not only are these venues fully open, but consumers are showing up in droves to attend major sporting events and concerts. Foot traffic to lower-key and closer-to-home entertainment venues also rebounded, with bowling alleys (79%) and movie theaters (65%) bringing in far more consumers in Q3 2022 than Q3 2021.

While most outdoor venues like parks and wilderness areas experienced high foot traffic during the pandemic as consumers sought activities that allowed them to get outside in a safe and socially distant way, the same can’t be said now as foot traffic to outdoor recreation venues fell by more than 19% in Q3 2022.

“With the world open again, consumers are increasingly seeking out live entertainment and shopping in-person compared to last year,” said Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics. “Consumers are still prioritizing where they spend their money, like at wholesale retailers, and we can expect that to continue while inflation remains high. We also found that areas that thrived during the pandemic, like parks and outdoor athletic centers, are seeing lower levels of traffic as other indoor entertainment options and leisure activities have reopened.”

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Inflation continues to have an impact across industries

Data from the report reveals that today’s shoppers seem to be doing more of their shopping at wholesale retailers like Costco and Sam’s Club where they can purchase items in bulk and get more for their money during this period of heavy inflation. Compared to Q3 2021, foot traffic to Sam’s Club, Costco, and BJ’s Wholesale was at least 25% higher this year, indicating inflation is having a deep impact on the grocery category.

Many assumed consumers would prioritize the summer months this year for taking long-awaited vacations, but insights from Gravy’s human mobility data reveal that didn’t happen. Foot traffic to places in the accommodations category (hotels, motels, golf resorts, destination resorts, and lodges) in Q3 2022 was 28% lower than in Q3 2021, when many consumers were grappling with traveling again. This drop in foot traffic was most pronounced at motels, which saw 55% less foot traffic in Q3 2022 compared to last year, likely due to their target customers being affected by higher prices for daily needs like gas and groceries. Hotel foot traffic also dropped 27% in the same time period.

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Workers are beginning to return to traditional office spaces

This year, many companies began implementing return to office policies, and insights from Gravy’s report suggest that workers are slowly but surely returning to traditional office spaces. In Q3 2022, foot traffic to office buildings was 7% higher than Q3 2021, while visits to general business services were up by 19%. OrlandoPhiladelphia, and Washington, D.C., all saw at least 35% more visits to business venues during Q3 2022 while New York City, one of the first markets to see foot traffic returning to office locations following COVID-19, grew by only 12%, signaling that this area is slowing down in terms of returning to the office.

Predictions heading into Q4 2022

“Based on our findings, we predict a strong holiday season for shopping and entertainment venues,” said White. “Unfortunately, lower-income consumers will continue to be the hardest hit by inflation, and businesses that predominantly serve this market, like discount stores and motels, will continue to see lower foot traffic until prices go down.”

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