The grocery sector was among the first segments to see a surge in demand in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and ended 2020 within 1% of 2019 visit levels, according to foot traffic analytics firm Placer.ai.
What Happened: Grocery store visits in the first quarter of 2020 were up 4.6% year-over-year as consumers rushed to stockpile food, Placer.ai said in a report.
Visit trends fell in the second quarter but recovered in the following quarter, when third-quarter visits improved 9.1% sequentially.
The grocery sector ended 2020 with total visits down just 0.9% in the fourth quarter, but visit durations were up 0.9% in the fourth quarter, according to Placer.ai.
This suggests that consumers were likely buying more per visit and could be seen as a "hugely significant finish" to 2020 for the grocery sector.
Why It's Important: The grocery sector showed "significant strength" throughout 2020 although perhaps more important is the increase in visit duration.
What's Next: A shift in "mission-driven" shopping was a huge factor for retail during the pandemic, and if elements of this continue in 2021, it could have a large impact, Placer.ai said.
"Traditional grocery brands seem uniquely well-positioned heading into the new year, while those struggling must rely on a rapid end to the pandemic."
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