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"PiinPoint has become an integral part of my role as Retail Analyst at Cushman & Wakefield Waterloo Region. The platform allows me to put together professional looking reports and provide clients with the insights they need to make real estate decisions.

I honestly don’t know how I would do my job effectively without PiinPoint."

Jessica McCabe, M.Ed.
Retail Analyst

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What Movement Patterns Tell Us About The Recovery Of The Retail Industry In Canada



June 2, 2020

Quick findings

  • Visits to Canadian Retailers are up 28.5% from last month, but still down 54% from this time last year
  • Pent up demand has increased visits to Home Improvement stores, seeing a 29% increase in visits year over year during busy Victoria Day Long weekend (measured over a two week period between May 11 and May 24)
  • Grocery Stores have seen more visitors than this time last year, with a 10% increase year over year

In May, Provincial Governments across Canada began relaxing their restrictions on retail businesses, kick-starting the recovery process for Canadian Retailers. PiinPoint’s Mobile Location Data shows that consumers are returning to many retailers, with visits up 28.5% from our report last month. That said, visits are still down 54% from this time last year.

Some retailers are seeing higher than normal visitor traffic due to pent-up consumer demands. Home Improvement Stores are seeing the largest rebound, with visits only down 2% between April 25 and May 24, when compared to this time last year, an increase of 93.8% when compared to the low in April. Home Improvement Retailers in Canada like Home Hardware, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, and Lowes have seen lines of customers out the door and a large increase in visits during the busy Victoria Day long weekend. We can see those significant spikes in visits over the last few weeks, with many days having over 50% more visitors than last year, on average visits were up 29% year over year between May 11 and May 24th.

Visits to Grocery Stores are still down, but we have seen a consistent recovery, with visits being only down 6% year over year during the last 30 days, and increasing 79.7% from the month before. Visits were up 10% year over year during the last two weeks of our study.

Not surprisingly, the data shows that restaurants have been hit the hardest, experiencing a 88% drop in visits when compared to the same period last year, given the strict business closures that have been enforced by provincial and federal governments. Those eateries with an option for drive-thru service, such as fast-food restaurants, are seeing a 32% decrease in visits. Clothing and Home stores and Banks have seen an 82% and 71% decrease in visits, while Electronic and Office Supply Stores have seen a 58% decrease in visits. With few people driving to work, gas stations have seen a 57% decrease in visitors.

Using PiinPoint’s Mobile Location Data, we are able to track movement patterns of consumers in Canada and the United States to monitor the recovery rate as the Retail Industry begins to look at reopening.

Specifically, we are monitoring data from retailers in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver. We track consumer activities happening at banks, clothing and home stores, electronic and office suppliers, fast food restaurants, full-service restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, home improvement stores, and movie theatres, as well as the retail industry in general. 

In order to track this data, we selected a series of retailers that operate across the country and represented a good cross-section of the industry. Using our Location Intelligence platform, we identified all locations for the selected retailers within the listed cities and created a geofence around each of those store locations, including their parking lots in the catchment area. This allowed us to take into account both take-out and curbside pickups within our visitor data.

Using anonymized mobile location data, we were able to compare year over year visits to these retail locations and create an index to visualize the impact of the pandemic and monitor the recovery over time. We began tracking these trends on March 23 and have updated the numbers to May 24th. We will be providing regular updates to our data set on consumer movement patterns and how they are affecting Canadian Retailers. Sign up below to receive these updates.

PiinPoint is committed to supporting its customers and other retail real estate organizations during this time of stress. More than ever, access to data and the digitization of real estate decision making has proven to be critical. As we witness the new demands put on our retail clients, we are also working to support the development of new strategies for location networks; with tools to evaluate location changes and performance, understand the potential of omnichannel, experiment with new operations, and helping retailers emerge from the pandemic with a plan for success.

Learn more about how PiinPoint can help your business evolve and thrive.