Business foot traffic and the pandemic

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JOPLIN, Mo. — The amount of foot traffic in businesses is often a tell tale sign of how well a store is doing when it comes to sales. But that’s not always the case.

People walking into and out off businesses is refereed to as foot traffic. And nationwide, there was a drastic drop in that for retailers during 2020 compared to 2019, 63% according to one study. But did the same trend hold true in the Joplin area? The owner of Import Warehouse in Joplin says not for him.

Steven St. Clair, President, Import Warehouse, said, “Right around April we did notice a drop off, when it kind of first started in this area, but quickly after that traffic’s been back to normal, I think people have been very good about wearing masks, we got signs on our door for people to wear their mask when they come in, and actually we had a really good year last year.”

But it’s a different story for Chick-Fil-A, inside the North Park Mall.

Josie Bliss, Team Leader, Chick-fil-A, said, “When it first hit it was very slow, dead slow, we probably had about three workers maybe, if that, sales just dropped, the tables in the food court were taken out, they were spread around, we did not have any one here, yeah it was pretty dead.”

Fortunately, Bliss says business eventually picked up, especially around the holidays.

So what kind of a year was it for foot traffic and sales at Henkle’s Ace Hardware in Webb City? They’re getting ready to open a 2nd location in Joplin.

John Henkle, President, Henkle’s Ace Hardware, said, “We’ve wanted to do this for a long time and with the increase in sales and traffic it’s a great opportunity for us and we’re really looking forward to it, it’s very similar to our store in Webb City, It’s very similar to our store in Webb City, our inventory will be basically the same and hopefully we’ll open if the weather will cooperate around the 1st of April.”

Henkle says he plans on hiring about 20 employees to work inside the 10,000 square foot building once construction is complete.

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