Grocery store traffic increases in Q3, potentially spurring private brand sales

A new study from examined foot traffic in several retail sectors during Q3 of 2021, with customers increasingly visiting the grocery store in recent months.
Zachary Russell
Associate Editor
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An increase in grocery store foot traffic in Q3 of 2021 could lead to an increase in private label sales, according to The firm that studies foot traffic in various sectors of retail noted that grocery visits climbed by 7.6% compared to Q3 2019 while dining visits dropped, indicating that certain consumers were likely choosing cooking at home over eating out at restaurants in order to avoid exposure to the current COVID wave. 

“Grocery is a sector that seems to have benefited considerably from the pandemic’s impact on retail patterns,” said in its new Quarterly Index report. “Restaurant closures and restrictions coupled with more time at home significantly contributed to increased grocery store visits. And while grocery foot traffic moved closer to pre-pandemic patterns in Q1, the subsequent rise in cases and associated dip in consumer confidence has been driving grocery visits up again in recent months.”


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An increase in grocery store visits could drive sales of private label products as well. The study analyzed visits to several grocery stores, many of which have strong private label selections, such as Aldi, Albertsons, Trader Joe’s and Publix.

“Several of the trends driving grocery success should also give an added benefit to private brands,” Ethan Chernofsky, VP of Marketing at “Chief among these is a lingering sense of uncertainty among consumers that speaks to an ongoing need to find ways to save money where possible. This same concept can buoy the performance of private brands which tend to provide a more cost-effective solution.”

Other findings in the Quarterly Index found a large increase in weekend visits to the grocery store in Q3 compared to the two previous quarters of 2021. Weekday visits were up 8.2% from Q2, and weekend visits were up 6.5%.

The study also found that shoppers are spending more time in the grocery store, potentially seeing the end of the pandemic’s “mission-driven shopping,” or making shorter, more focused shopping trips to limit exposure. Median visit duration dropped by 5.4% in Q2 and by 2.4% in Q3 when compared to 2020, and year over two year data indicates that visit length has more or less returned to pre-pandemic norms.