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Consumers Choosing to Shop and Dine Closer to Home

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Gravy Analytics released its new Consumer Trends Report, which analyzed foot traffic data across a variety of locations in the USA from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023 to see how consumer behavior has changed across industries.

The report found that foot traffic increased to businesses in categories like shopping and restaurants, but there was a significant decrease in accommodation traffic. The data indicates a modest return to discretionary spending, with consumers prioritizing shopping and dining out closer to home rather than traveling.

The chart above from Gravy Analytics shows the percentage change in foot traffic to different place categories in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022.

Consumers return to in-person shopping and dining out across restaurant types

Gravy’s latest report reveals visits to shopping-related destinations were up 20% in Q1 2023 compared to the same period last year. Seeing the biggest increases in foot traffic in Q1 2023 were arts and craft supply stores (40%), department stores (34%), outlet malls (32%), and shopping centers (31%).

Although there was an unexpected dip in foot traffic to department stores in Q4 2022 despite the holiday shopping season, consumers returned to these retailers in Q1 2023 with the majority of brands seeing foot traffic rise above Q1 2022 levels.

The report found that upscale department stores such as Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom were beaten out in terms of consumer foot traffic by more affordable alternatives such as Kohl’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Macy’s.

Q1 2023 also saw consumers spend on dining out across restaurant types. While fast food restaurants (25%), ice cream shops (32%), and coffee shops (23%) continued to see the strongest foot traffic growth, restaurants like Italian (9%) and Mexican (13%) eateries and family-style restaurants (6%) saw healthy increases in foot traffic in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022.

Foot traffic to higher-end chain restaurants, including Outback Steakhouse and Ruth’s Chris, saw a dramatic dip in Q4 2022 before rising again in Q1 2023. Additionally, in Q1 2023, visits to non-chain restaurants in the category were 10% higher than the same period in 2022.

With consumers spending closer to home, accommodations take a hit

During Q1 2023, retailers and restaurants saw increased foot traffic as consumers prioritized spending closer to home in these categories, while foot traffic to accommodations decreased 22% in Q1 2023 compared to Q1 2022.

The subcategories that experienced the most significant losses were hotels and motels, down 24% and 28%, respectively. Foot traffic to golf resorts was flat in Q1 2023 compared to last year while destination resorts were down (-5%).

Jeff White, founder and CEO of Gravy Analytics, said: 

Insights from the Q1 2023 report indicate that consumers are finding room in their budgets for shopping, though prioritizing more affordable retailers, and dining out with their families across a variety of restaurant types. However, consumers are being more selective with their budget when it comes to spending on accommodations, possibly due to ongoing concerns over travel disruptions, rising gas prices, and increased hotel rates.

Gravy’s report found that across the country’s 50 largest cities, New York and Boston were the only locations to experience year-over-year increases in foot traffic to accommodations with a modest 7% growth in each. Cities that experienced the largest decline in foot traffic to accommodation locations included Kansas City (-38%), Fort Worth (-39%), and Tulsa (-46%).

How these trends will shape Q2 2023

According to Jeff White, based on our findings, consumer discretionary spending is slowly beginning to recover, and Q2 2023 is likely to see consumers continue to explore ways to get out with their families whether that be shopping, dining, or other activities.

Jeff White added:

With graduations, school breaks, and the beginning of summer ahead, it will be interesting to see if accommodations achieve increased foot traffic or if consumers continue to prioritize spending closer to home.

For more information on Gravy Analytics’ research, download the full report.

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