According to Placer.ai, Walmart and Kroger, two of the largest retailers in the U.S., have demonstrated specific strengths in the COVID-19 pandemic that could stand them in good stead in a more normalized marketplace.
Walmart’s second quarter transactions dropped 14% but average basket size increased 27%. Yet, Ethan Chernofsky, the traffic tracker’s vp/marketing, noted that the increase indicates that consumers are visiting Walmart for mission-driven shopping. So, for example, August saw a year over year 4.5% increase in average visit duration to Walmart supercenters. A continuation of that tendency would have interesting consequences, Chernofsky noted. If Walmart can maintain its trend of maximized basket size, the returns for the company could be huge particularly in connection with key initiatives such as its pushes into health and pharmacy or more digitally harmonized options.
He added, though, that even if patterns return to normal, Walmart’s visits will return as well, the takeaway being that the retailer’s strength is so unique that it is able to adapt.
As for Kroger, after surges in traffic in February and March, the supermarket operator’s visits were performing relatively well throughout the pandemic. But by July, traffic had returned to year-over-year growth with a 2% jump in visits. The trend indicates staying power with weekly visits since July 27 averaging 2.5% gains over the equivalent weeks in 2019. And it isn’t just that traffic is up, as visitors are spending more time at Kroger locations with a year-over-year jump of 5.3% in July and August compared to the same periods in the year prior. Perhaps the most impressive element of Kroger’s story, Chernofsky pointed out, is that it was not among the best-positioned grocers at this point in 2019. If Kroger can leverage the boost it has recently enjoyed, the impact could be lasting, he added.