Store Traffic Matches Last Year
As markets opened on Monday, stores saw a somewhat cautious response from consumers resulting in 17% less traffic compared to same day (lunar calendar) last year; however as the week progressed, the footfall in stores steadily increased till 19th Ramadan where the traffic this year was 19% more than last year. On 20th Ramadan, however, the traffic was 4% less than last year which resulted in the overall traffic for the 4 day period (17th Ramadan to 20th Ramadan) 2% less than year.
While there is a general increase in traffic across the board, the data shows that population in some cities has been more cautious than others. The graph below shows the top and bottom 5 cities based on the % decline/increase in their traffic over last year:
Based on the data, it is obvious that there is a lot more congestion in stores as they serve the same or higher level of traffic while operating for only 2/3 of hours as compared to last year.
45% Stores are Still Closed
While considering comparison to last year, it’s important to note that because of restrictions, a lot of stores have not still opened resulting in more foot traffic to stores that are open.
Islamabad and Karachi have a considerable number of stores that are still not open primarily because retail stores (at least in our sample) have a very high tilt towards Malls, which have still not been open for business.
Visitor Conversion is Far Higher than Last Year
Another interesting trend that we have observed is that the conversion of visitors into buyers is 46% higher than the same period last year. This, according to our analysts, is driven by two main factors:
- People who are visiting are doing so in smaller groups to avoid the risk of contracting the disease
- There is a significantly higher intent to purchase due to the needs that have not been met during lockdown
As a result, retailers have seen a 43% growth in same store transactions. However, given that over 40% of stores are still shut down, retailers have seen an overall drop of 25% in transactions compared to last year. Further, the overall decline in the retail business is anticipated to be around 60% as they are forced to operate only 4 days in a week where weekends (currently closed) contribute significantly to the retail revenues.
Suggested Way Forward for Retailers and Government
If operations are to continue with a better balance with public health, we would suggest to the authorities to:
- Allow brands to open all their stores for the traffic/buyers to spread across locations instead of congesting in the limited number of stores that are open.
- Consider allowing somewhat longer hours and perhaps more # of days so the number of visitors at any given time and location can be reduced and hence there is lesser congestion and risk of spreading the virus.
- Encourage brands to track occupancy of their stores through automated counting of visitors and limit entry into the stores based on the capacity of the store and make this information clearly visible inside their stores.
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- The data for this year is from May 11, 2020 – May 14, 2020 whereas the dates for last year are May 22, 2019 – May 25, 2019. Both set of dates represent 17th to 20th Ramada which is a more relevant comparative due to the high demand around Eid. Further, 25th May being a Saturday has been statistically adjusted to account for 20th Ramadan being a Thursday in 2020.
- This report is based on the data from a sample of 350+ stores across 40 cities and 30 brands in Pakistan.
- The traffic data reported is measured by state of the art 3D cameras to count people traffic in retail stores.