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Luke Katz

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Just Released Foot Traffic Report Indicates Early 2017 QSR Trends

Posted by Luke Katz on Feb 22, 2017 10:00:00 AM

xAd Q4 2016 QSR Foot Traffic

While foot traffic data has been known to uncover real-world consumer insights, most don't realize how frequently it can align with actual brand performance and business trends—providing marketers with a deeper understanding into shopping behavior and future business success.

This is just one of the findings from xAd's just released QSR Foot Traffic report, which compares Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) foot traffic from Q3 to Q4 2016. Let's take a look at four of the QSR brands that experienced shifts in visitation this quarter and what our data tells us about recent and upcoming business events.

Exploring New Territory: Chick-fil-A

Topping the list is Chick-fil-A, which saw a 2.6 percent increase in foot traffic in Q4 of last year. In line with what Business Insider reported in October, Chick-fil-A has been generating more per-restaurant revenue than any other U.S. QSR chain.

Analysts chalk this up to recent expansions into the Midwest and Northeast, including high profile locations in New York City, and the introduction of healthy new menu items, such as grain bowls. If Chick-fil-A continues along this same path, the uptick in its foot traffic could be here to stay.

King of Meats: Arby's

Arby's is another fast-food brand that did relatively well in Q4, with an increase in foot traffic of nearly 1 percent. What accounts for the change? Arby's had a "meaty year" that put it several percentage points above the overall QSR industry in same-store sales growth. QSR Web notes that plans for more than 160 new locations, multiple new menu items, and a big improvement in QSR diner satisfaction all account for its recent foot traffic patterns.

The Comeback Kid: Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill's Q4 0.5 percent foot traffic increase was another step in the right direction for the brand that has been slowly increasing throughout the year, as noted by xAd earlier in the year. A report from Reuters suggests that December's jump in sales was the high point of a disappointing quarter, but the chain is anticipating growth in 2017. The company plans to improve its customer service, unveil new menu items (including dessert!), and launch new digital ordering technology — all of which could boost foot traffic once more and help Chipotle leave its problems in the past.

Embracing The Future: McDonald's

Although it's usually a strong player, McDonald's didn't fare as well as usual in Q4. Interest in the chain's recently expanded All Day Breakfast menu is, according to Crain's Chicago Business, "waning," and domestic same-store sales dropped 1.3 percent last quarter.

While this shift is reflected in our data, which showed a simultaneous 1.4 percent decrease in foot traffic, don't count McDonald's out of the game. As noted by Crain's, while the brand is behind many of its competitors on the technology front — a fact that could be affecting its foot traffic as well — McDonald's is currently preparing to expand its "Experience of the Future" concept by introducing table service and self-serve ordering kiosks in all of its U.S. stores.

Want more QSR insights and customer trends? Download the xAd QSR Foot Traffic Trends Report

Topics: Research, Location

The Top 10 Places People Will Go to Banish the Blue Monday Blues

Posted by Luke Katz on Jan 13, 2017 9:00:00 AM

You've heard of Black Friday and even Gray Thursday (otherwise known as Thanksgiving), but are you familiar with Blue Monday? Blue Monday was developed by a British company who claimed to have calculated the exact date when consumers are most in need of a pick-me-up based on factors like weather, failed New Year's resolutions, and post-holiday debt. As a result, the third Monday in January—which in 2017 falls on January 16th—has widely become known as the most depressing day of the year.

While some may choose to spend the day hiding under the sheets and others will take the advice of The Huffington Post and indulge in retail therapy, xAd has some ideas of our own. What better way to brush off “Blue Monday” blues than with an uplifting experience? We turned to historical Monday foot traffic data in New York to predict the top 10 places people will visit locally on January 16th to improve their mood. So grab your coat, and get ready to beat the Blue Monday blues.

Treat Yourself


  • Eataly - This NYC hot spot will transport visitors to an Italian market where you can dine on caviar, sip wine, taste test truffles, and leave wearing a smile.
  • Denny's - Those who prefer good old American fare will use Blue Monday as an excuse to fill up on milkshakes, hamburgers, and pancakes. Nothing says comfort food like "America's Diner," which sees the most foot traffic on Mondays.
  • Marriott Hotels - If all else fails, stop by a hotel for a drink or to enjoy a spa day. Based on our foot traffic data and Monday visitation trends, Marriott is bound to be a popular choice for both.

Reinvent Yourself


  • Equinox - What better way to lift your spirits than with a butt-kicking workout at Equinox? This is the most popular New York gym for Monday foot traffic, and Monday also sees the most gym visits overall as we all try to work off the extravagances of the weekend.
  • SoulCycle - With a slogan like "Find your soul," New York's cult brand and indoor cycling company SoulCycle is likely to see an uptick in traffic on Blue Monday. Whatever the weather, you can roll on over for a 45-minute ride.
  • USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center - You don't have to be Andy Murray to enjoy a good tennis match. Whether you're new to the game or need to strengthen your existing skills, booking a private tennis lesson is a surefire way to feel great.
  • Supercuts - Looking for a change but don't want to blow your New Year's budget? Stop by Supercuts. There's no quicker and easier way to shed a few inches from your past.

Explore the Big Apple


  • Madison Square Park - No matter the temperature, New Yorkers like their green space! Expect many people to make the most of Blue Monday by enjoying a walk through Madison Square Park. While you're there, visit the world-famous Shake Shack at Madison and East 23rd, a popular Monday destination that got its start as a hot dog cart in the park itself.
  • One World Trade Center - Both residents and visitors can appreciate One World Trade Center for its spectacular 360 views of landmarks like Lady Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. This location is also a popular shopping destination, with premium shops at Brookfield Place and the gorgeous Oculus transportation hub nearby.
  • The Cort Theater - Transport yourself to France by catching a thought-provoking play at one of New York's oldest and most beautiful theaters, inspired by the 18th century French Petit Trianon at Versailles.

Want more customer insights like these? xAd's Marketplace Discovery tool is packed with foot traffic data and trends.

Topics: Location, Seasonal

Black Friday is Changing: How Location Intelligence Shows a Shift in Shopping Behavior

Posted by Luke Katz on Nov 30, 2016 3:40:08 PM

With more than 154 million consumers shopping over this Thanksgiving weekend—up from 151 million in 2015—there’s no question that the holiday weekend is critical to a retailer’s success. Despite the rise of online and mobile shopping, in-store foot traffic is still a strong indicator of a brand’s success over the upcoming holiday season. 

This year, overall foot traffic on Black Friday was 60% higher than an average day in November, but the increase was much larger for some brands than others. While Department and Apparel stores indexed over 2x above the average monthly traffic, Big Box and Specialty retailers, such as Target and Bed Bath and Beyond only saw about a 43% increase in visits.

xAd Retail Foot Traffic 11/1 - 11/28

Many brands chose to close their doors on Thanksgiving, but was it worth it for the ones who opted to remain open?

Judging by location data and foot traffic results, yes. These brands, which included many major Big Box and Department stores saw a 127% increase over average traffic on Thanksgiving despite shorter hours, making up nearly a quarter of their weekend visits.

Black Friday traffic didn’t seem to suffer either. Being open on Thanksgiving contributed to more holiday momentum overall as these brands still saw the biggest share of their visits (30%) on the traditional big shopping day.

xAd Foot Traffic Distribution on Thanksgiving Weekend

Black Friday has traditionally been associated with nightmare stories of early morning campouts and consumers flooding into stores. But with deals just a click or tap away, is the early morning doorbuster dead?

If not dead, it is certainly on the decline as consumers no longer need to line up at 4am to score big deals.  In fact, 80% of Black Friday visits this year occurred after 10am. The majority of visits (34%) also occurred between 10am and 3pm, with the evening hours outperforming the early timeslot.

xAd Black Friday Share of Visits by Time of Day

Big deals generate the most excitement for big-ticket items, such as electronics and high-end apparel. As consumer behavior shifts, however, how does their shopping categories change as well?

Increase in Foot Traffic Over Black Friday:

  1. Electronics (+101%)
  2. Department Stores (+87%)
  3. Fashion Retail (+57%)

Electronic retailers still rule the Black Friday deals, seeing the largest lift over average traffic driven by the strength of their late night sales, as the category saw the biggest increase over average visits between 8pm and 12am. Although the doorbuster is on the decline, Big Box stores remain most popular in the early morning with their timed deals, as they indexed 12% higher for foot traffic between 5am and 10am than the rest of the retail categories.

xAd Black Friday Category Visits by Time of Day

As holiday deals get more spread out over weeks (rather than hours) and retailers provide more deals online, there is no doubt Black Friday is changing. In fact, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) says that the holiday shopping season has lengthened to include all of November and December and that many consumers anticipate that the best deals are yet to come.  As consumer foot traffic behaviors continue to evolve, location intelligence will continue to provide powerful insights for retailers throughout this key shopping season.

Topics: Location, Seasonal

NFL Foot Traffic Face Off: Broncos vs. Chiefs

Posted by Luke Katz on Nov 17, 2016 10:21:03 AM

In two weeks, The Denver Broncos will host the Kansas City Chiefs in a huge divisional match up for the #1 spot in the AFC West. The match-up is not only important for both teams, but also the NFL, who pushed it from the afternoon time slot to the coveted Sunday Night Football game.

With all eyes and TV sets turned on to watch the Chiefs and Broncos in week 12, we matched up these rivales in a head to head foot traffic battle. See which fans win in visitation below!

Infographic_Broncos vs. Chiefs- The i-70 Bowl .jpg

Topics: Location, Seasonal

NFL Foot Traffic Face Off: Patriots vs. Jets

Posted by Luke Katz on Nov 9, 2016 9:00:00 AM

It's week two of our three part series, where we match up some of NFL's greatest rivalries and watch them go head to head in foot traffic.

While the Jets season continues to slip away after their week nine loss to the Dolphins — their foot traffic remains high. See how they stacked up against the Patriots, arguably the best team in the NFL.

xAd NFL Foot Traffic Infographic: Patriots vs. Jets

Topics: Location, Seasonal

NFL Foot Traffic Face Off: Cowboys vs. Eagles

Posted by Luke Katz on Nov 3, 2016 10:48:07 AM

The midway point of the NFL season is coming up, and division rivalries are in full swing as teams battle to make the playoffs.  To get in the spirit, xAd looked at three of the biggest rivalries in the NFL to see what foot traffic can tell us about each team’s fans.

In round one of our series, we looked at the Cowboys vs. Eagles, who battled it out in week eight of Sunday Night Football!

xAd NFL Foot Traffic Infographic: Cowboys vs. Eagles

Topics: Location, Seasonal

From Luxury to Economy: The Truth Behind Consumer Car Shopping Behavior

Posted by Luke Katz on Oct 24, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Consumers shopping for cars

We all think we know exactly how people buy cars. We picture consumers visiting dealerships on the weekend, or embarking on a car search at the same time that they buy a new house. While there may be some truth to these assumptions, automotive marketers know that assumptions aren't enough. To effectively engage your target car buying audience, you need to focus on the facts.

To get to the bottom of how, when, and why consumers shop for cars, xAd analyzed foot traffic data surrounding Luxury dealers like BMW and Mercedes; Economy dealers like Honda and Ford; and Fuel-Efficient dealers like Tesla and Smart USA. By leveraging location intelligence (observing and analyzing the different behaviors of these target audiences), we can extract critical information about their wants and needs. Some of what we found was surprising.

People are More Likely to Visit Dealerships on Weekdays

In fact, visits to car dealerships indexed 24 percent higher on weekdays than weekends. This may be due to service visits, which tend to draw consumers to the lot. We also discovered that luxury dealerships receive far more visits on Wednesdays and Thursdays than their counterparts, indexing 21 percent higher than Economy dealers and 24 percent higher than Fuel-Efficient dealerships on these days. Interestingly, consumers were least likely to visit a luxury dealership on Saturday or Sunday. Sundays were an even less popular choice for shoppers searching for Economy cars — although it's important to note that in some states and counties, dealerships don't open on Sundays at all.

xAd Visitation to Auto Dealership by Day of Week

Luxury, Economy & Fuel-Efficient Car Shoppers Prefer to Shop Midday

When it comes to time of day, visits to all three dealership types were highest in the middle of the day, from noon to about 3 pm. That said, no two target shoppers are created equal. While visits to Economy dealerships received the most visits between 9 am and 6 pm, Luxury dealers received far more traffic in the evenings, between 8 pm and 10 pm. This suggests these consumers might work late and can't start car shopping until after their work day is done. That's useful information for Luxury dealerships planning location-based mobile ad campaigns, as it allows them to deliver their messages at a time when consumers have car shopping top of mind.

xAd Visitation to Auto Dealership by Time of Day

Foot Traffic Insights Also Reveal Brand Affinities

Understanding the car buyer's mindset isn't just about interpreting car shopping preferences, but their restaurant and retail preferences too. Foot traffic data also tells us that Luxury car shoppers visit high-end stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom; Fuel-Efficient car shoppers favor environmentally-conscious stores like Starbucks and Whole Foods; and Economy car shoppers visit Fast Food and Big Box retailers like McDonald's and Lowe's. Consumers shopping for a domestic Economy vehicle, meanwhile, were 32 percent more likely to go to McDonald's than those interested in a foreign car. Dealers can use all of this information to locate their target customers based on their proximity to key businesses.

xAd Auto Brand Affinities

Finally, how do life events like buying a house influence other major purchases, like buying a new car? After observing foot traffic data, we learned that those who visited a real estate broker were 3 percent more likely to visit an auto dealer within 2 months. While 3 percent may not sound like a lot, it's a significant overlap given the infrequency with which consumers buy a new home or car. Thanks to these valuable foot traffic insights, auto marketers can identify and reach car buyers — wherever they are.

Topics: Industry, Location

2016全米オープン: ニューヨーク市最大のテニスイベントのインサイトを得る

Posted by Luke Katz on Sep 13, 2016 4:10:22 PM

With a new stadium and roof, plus major upsets in the tennis world, this year’s US Open was a real ace as the tournament set various attendance records with popularity at an all-time high. Two new champions, Angelique Kerber and Stan Wawrinka, dispatched old favorites like Novak Djokovic and Caroline Wozniacki, and American men’s tennis still awaits their first Open victory since 2003. To keep up with all the exciting action, xAd observed foot traffic data throughout the two weeks to see what players drew the biggest crowds and where else those spectators were likely to be seen (hint, Central Park was a popular one).  Click the infographic below to download the PDF!

Click for US Open 2016 Foot Traffic

Topics: Location, Seasonal

Here's What the Growing 'Grocerant' Trend Means to QSRs

Posted by Luke Katz on Sep 1, 2016 4:20:42 PM


Whole Foods, Publix, and Wegmans have something in common, and it isn't their bottomless supply of bread, milk, and eggs. All three have evolved to become "grocerants"—part grocery store, part restaurant—in an effort to meet increased consumer demand for prepared foods.

According to a recent report by market research firm NPD Group, supermarket prepared foods, along with in-store dining, has grown by almost 30 percent since 2008. Both offerings appeal to consumers on the go, including millennials, who are drawn to the convenience of shopping and dining in one location. "Give the millennials what they want — fresh, healthier fare and a decent price—and they will come," NPD Group's vice president of industry analysis has said.

And come they have. Last year, take-out prepared foods and in-store supermarket dining represented $29 billion in consumer spending. NPD Group reports that more than 40 percent of Americans now purchase prepared foods from grocery stores, and that supermarkets generated 2.4 billion food-service visits in 2015. What's more, grocerant buyers rank prepared foods higher in terms of freshness and quality when compared with QSR meals.

There's no question the trend has momentum. It's time to ask: does the rise of the grocerant post a threat to quick service and fast casual restaurants (QSRs)?

To assess the situation, xAd turned to its location intelligence to take a closer look at where consumers are eating, and when. Foot traffic data for May through July sourced from xAd shows that grocers like Whole Foods, Publix, and Wegmans, which offer many prepared foods options, saw a 15 percent decrease in visitors who also patronized a QSR. What this means is that consumers visiting grocerants at mealtimes are becoming less likely to also be seen at their favorite fast food locations.

Analyzing visitation patterns throughout the day provides more insight into where this shift is occurring. Consumers may say they prefer the quality of grocerant meals, but let's not forget that QSR's have other perks, including speed of service, price, and the convenience of their locations. With their convenient nature, QSRs received more relative morning and lunchtime foot traffic, while grocerants are most popular at dinner time, as consumers pick up groceries on their way home from work.


However, it should be noted that when comparing grocerants to supermarkets with a retail focus, visits to the former were higher at lunch time. So even though fast food and fast casual restaurants still have the upper hand at midday, there's clearly an increasing demand for prepared food at lunch.

Above all else, what xAd foot traffic data shows us is that the grocerant trend shouldn't be ignored. QSRs can focus on speed and convenience as a clear point of differentiation, but they'll want to offer more healthy menu options the likes of which consumers can get from grocerants if they want to keep customers coming back to their stores throughout the day. There are valuable learnings for grocery chains, too. If they hope to compete, introducing more prepared foods and appealing in-store dining opportunities will be key. There may also be an opportunity to extend their offerings and focus to breakfast which has been hugely successful among QSR consumers.

Want to learn more about the grocerant craze and recent QSR visitation data? Contact us for additional insights.

Topics: Research, Location

July 4th Road Tripping: See Which States Hit the Road Most this Independence Day

Posted by Luke Katz on Jul 8, 2016 10:32:04 AM

With Summer in full effect and gas prices the lowest they’ve been in 10 years, AAA estimated that a record 43 million Americans were expected to travel this past Fourth of July weekend, with the majority (over 80%) being by car. 

Were you one of the 43 million? Curious what the most popular states were for Independence Day road tripping? We evaluated foot traffic data to gas stations over the weekend to see where people were fueling up, stocking up on snacks, and hitting the road. 


Topics: Research, Seasonal