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Walmart, Costco, Target are seeing a drop in traffic because of coronavirus, surprising no one

How long will it last?

A shopper leaves the Target Store on 34th St. with supplies as carpenter board up the Sephora story, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York.
A shopper leaves the Target Store on 34th St. with supplies as carpenter board up the Sephora store, Friday, March 20, 2020, in New York.
Mary Altaffer, Associated Press

Target, Walmart and Costco reported low traffic numbers due to the coronavirus, raising questions about how long the slowdown will last.

What’s going on:

Traffic at Walmart, Costco and Target stores across the country saw less traffic year-over-year for the first time in weeks last week as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to MarketWatch.

Here’s a breakdown of the traffic drop

  • Walmart — down 6.7%
  • Costco — down 8.7%
  • Target — down 20.5%

The data comes from Placer.ai, which offers insight into foot traffic.

Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, wrote in a company blog post: “There is a downside to stocking up for the long haul. Once you have all the things you need, there is little need for more visits. While some expected that the thrill of being able to get out could overcome a lowering demand for actual items, this may not be the case after all.”

Will things get better?

  • Chernofsky said there is a positive to what’s happening: “The positive here is that the data indicates that as the situation improves, and doesn’t worsen, consumer behavior tends to return to more normal patterns.”
  • “Should this trend hold, it’s a very strong endorsement for those who believe that wider retail activity could quickly return to previous levels should the preventative measures being enacted serve their ultimate goal.”