Target Corp., Walmart Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. are set to report earnings over the coming weeks, providing insight into the consumer spending landscape.
Set against this backdrop, analytics company Placer.ai has been analyzing foot traffic to the retail giants.
During the first half of 2023, Costco
outperformed the wider retail sector on a year-over-year basis, according to Placer.ai, with the former seeing visit growth of 1.2% and the latter seeing visits rise 3.1%. The overall retail sector saw a 0.3% dip in foot traffic during the first half of the year.
Related: These are the bright spots in the retail sector, according to foot-traffic data
Target reports second-quarter results before market open on Aug. 16 and Walmart
reports second-quarter results before market open on Aug. 17. Costco reports fiscal fourth-quarter results after market close on Sept. 26.
For Walmart, foot traffic was down 0.9% year-over-year in the first six months of 2022, possibly as a result of inflation, according to Placer.ai. “But more recent weekly visit data suggest that a rebound is taking place, with the chain posting YoY weekly visit growth between June 19th and July 24th – indicating that Walmart is positioned for YoY growth in H2,” Placer.ai said, in a statement. “Although Costco and Target saw greater YoY growth in H1 2023, Walmart remains the largest retailer in the United States and the undisputed leader of the superstore sector, with the brand receiving the majority of superstore visits in H1 2023.”
The three companies have similar median household incomes (HHIs) across their potential markets, according to Placer.ai. “But captured market data – which is weighted according to the actual visitors to each chain – shows that despite the similarities in the brands’ potential market, Walmart, Costco, Target still attract different types of visitors,” the analytics company said. “Households in Costco’s captured market have the highest median HHI – perhaps because shopping at Costco requires an upfront membership cost as well as space at home to store bulky purchases.” Households in Walmart’s captured market have the lowest median household income, possibly as a result of the company’s focus on low prices. Target sits between the two.
Related: Target sees more foot traffic despite anti-LGBTQ+ backlash, research finds
Placer.ai also highlighted the growth of what it describes as “mission-driven shopping” which emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic as shoppers sought to make fewer visits to stores. “These trends seem to have returned in H1 2023 as shoppers look for ways to cut down on gas costs and be more focused with their spending,” the analytics company said. Set against this backdrop, visit frequency has dropped across all three chains while median “dwell time” has increased. “The trend was particularly pronounced at Costco, which specializes in bulk shopping – the chain saw the largest decrease in YoY visit frequency, which dropped by 4.1%, and the highest increase in median dwell time YoY – 9.1%,” said Placer.ai.
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