Foursquare: Foot Traffic to Trails, Parks Rises in the Era of Social Distancing

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Location technology platform Foursquare updated its foot traffic analysis in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with data through March 27, as well as the addition of trends by region and of new categories outdoors (parks and trails), supply stores and drug stores.

Foursquare shared some of the highlights from its update.

The company projected in a previous update last week that people will look for new ways to stay fit while adhering to social distancing requirements, such as running or hiking outside.

Indeed, visits to trails were up 34% across the country compared with the previous week, while parks saw a 10% uptick in visits during the same time period.

Foot traffic to sit-down casual dining restaurants is down over 73% nationally, while fast-food restaurants have only seen an 18% drop, which Foursquare attributed to the availability of drive-through and takeout.

With few places to go, people are spending less time on the road, leading foot traffic to gas stations to drop between 7% and 8% across the U.S. in the week ending March 27, compared with the week ending Feb. 19.

Foursquare said the West saw the biggest drop, 13%, while the South only declined by 4%.

The Western region was the first part of the country to really begin feeling the impact of Covid-19 and, as a result, it has seen steeper declines in foot traffic than other regions, while the Midwest has seen later and smaller behavioral shifts.

Foursquare said foot traffic to bars was down 64% in the West, versus just 52% in the Midwest, adding that the West started feeling the impact as early as Feb. 28, while this did not occur in the Midwest until around March 20.

The difference was not as large when it came to clothing stores, with foot traffic in the West down 81% as of March 27, compared with 74% in the Midwest.

Foursquare also found that the effects of the coronavirus were felt more in urban areas than in rural areas, citing bars (down 67% in urban areas and 43% in rural areas), fast-food restaurants (23% and 13%, respectively) and gyms (75% and 59%, respectively).

The company wrote, “While Covid-19 is influencing people’s actions nationwide, the timing and scale of these behavioral shifts vary by population density and by region. For example, people seem to have distanced themselves socially most and earliest in urban areas and in the West, while rural areas and the Midwest have been slightly slower to adapt. We’ve also noticed trends changing over time since the outbreak began, such as waves of consumers first flocking to warehouse stores, then to grocery stores and, most recently, to drug stores.”

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