The COVID-19 pandemic has caused seismic shifts in consumer behavior, impacting where and when people shop, how they buy, and what they buy. Many chain-store businesses have been rocked by customer migrations as shoppers move home and work locations due to changes in employment status or work arrangement, concerns over health, or the desire to be closer to family or improve their quality of life.
Our data shows the impact of customer migration on sites for a big brand like Starbucks in the historically high-foot-traffic New York City market and on the potential opportunities for new Jimmy John’s sandwich franchises in a Texas market.
To deepen our understanding of customer migrations for a particular brand on a larger scale, we performed a data analysis of Whole Foods Market locations across the U.S. Using cell phone tracking and geofencing technology, we collected vital, real-time information about Whole Foods customers, including changes in home and work locations, since before COVID-19.
The interactive map below shows where the biggest shifts have been in customer migration patterns for the supermarket chain.
Orange cities have experienced a net loss of Whole Foods customers since pre-COVID-19.
Green cities have experienced a net gain of Whole Foods customers since pre-COVID-19.
The following cities experienced the highest net loss of Whole Foods customers since before the pandemic:
- Detroit, Michigan decreased 15%
- New York, New York decreased 11.1%
- Los Angeles, California decreased 8.9%
- Chicago, Illinois decreased 6.5%
Conversely, the following cities experienced the highest net gain of Whole Foods customers since before the pandemic:
- Virginia Beach, Virginia increased 41.5%
- Charleston, South Carolina increased 36.4%
- Nashville, Tennessee increased 15.4%
- Austin, Texas increased 4.5%
From this data, we see how changing home locations impacts the retail grocery chain’s customer base. Some customers that previously shopped at Whole Foods locations won’t be returning. They’ve migrated elsewhere. Real-time data on changes in home and work locations of prospective customers helps inform decisions on whether a site location determined pre-COVID is viable post-COVID.
As the spread of COVID-19 continues to wane and CDC guidelines become less stringent, retail shopping and restaurant dining will resume to robust levels. Nonetheless, chain stores and franchisors still need to navigate the new consumer behaviors and dynamic business landscape in a post-pandemic world.
To get COVID-19-related or other customer behavior data for your brand, competitors, or cotenants, simply fill out the form below.