Downtown Market Report w/ Covid-Related Data Analysis
We’ve just released special edition of our 1st Quarter Downtown Market Report. As commercial brokers, we have access to a powerful tool called Placer.ai that allows us to analyze anonymous cell phone and credit card data over time. Using this data, we were able to compare the last quarter to Q2 2020, when Covid was first really beginning to have an impact on the local economy. We found the information fascinating and hope you will too! Below is an expert from our greater Downtown Market Report:
To state the obvious, this represents a unique time in our nation’s history. We’ve all been affected by Covid in one way or another. Our city has had to weather its fair share of challenges as well. As our nation and city awake and even begin to hit their stride again, we thought it an apt time to analyze the trends related to Covid in the city of Augusta in particular. Please note that while we admittedly aren’t data scientists, as commercial brokers, we are regularly having conversations with those most affected by the pandemic, small business owners. We also have access to data that most others do not, so we thought we’d share what we could. To do so, we used Placer.ai, a highly specialized consumer data tool that uses anonymous credit card and cell phone data, and compared the first quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2020 (one of the times of peak Covid impact). Let’s dive in!
In looking at the data, the number of consumers alone is a telling number, going from 123K last year to now 200K, a nearly 63% increase. The estimated number of visits ramped back up even further, going from 233K to 440K, a nearly 89% increase. (Of course, keep in mind this doesn’t account for seasonal activity changes.) The hourly visit trends reflect this, as you can visibly see the number of visitors making appearances in downtown storefronts being cut in half due to Covid in what are typically peak consumer hours. The “gold” visits trend line shows the visits that took place during Q2 of 2020. The uptrend coming out of the initial Covid shutdown is clear. It’s easy to gloss over data, but seeing these numbers hover so low for so long is a reminder of the trauma that so many have experienced, both as business owners and individuals.
Placer only tracks patterns and can’t really speak to the amount of money that individuals are spending. The length of stay is a window into the amount of time that consumers spend in a store. We all know intuitively that how much time we spend in a location correlates with the amount of money we ultimately spend there. In looking at these numbers, it’s clear just how much shorter consumer visits were to downtown stores during the height of Covid compared to where they are now. As you make your way to the right side of the graph, the proportion size of the gold bar to the blue bar reduces, meaning consumers just weren’t staying as long in places of business last year.
As a commercial broker working and focused in the downtown area, I can say anecdotally that the amount of interest we’re seeing in downtown Augusta right now is really encouraging and feels akin to the fervor we were seeing prior to Covid. It has taken time, but here’s to hoping that we’ve finally turned the corner for good. Augusta is still just realizing some of its incredibly great potential, and I’m hopeful that 2021 can be that next jumping-off point toward greater things to come.