Austin shoppers loved visiting hardware stores in 2020, KXAN’s traffic tracking tech reveals

Weather & Traffic In-Depth

AUSTIN (KXAN) — From drive times to congestion and accidents, modern technology can track your driving habits better than ever. This same technology can also be used to track your shopping habits.

“We wanted to take a look at what’s going on in a city that’s growing,” Bob Pishue said. He’s a transportation analyst with INRIX.

INRIX, the developers of the technology used in the KXAN First Warning Traffic Center to monitor congestion in Austin, was able to determine which retail spaces were seeing the most visits throughout the pandemic.

“Hardware stores did really well last year. Record revenue,” Pishue said.

In fact, their research showed that Austinites took 40% more trips to the hardware stores in April 2021 than they did in January 2020. This increase may be because of people stuck at home and the huge influx of new Austin residents.

“As people move into new houses, they remodel,” Pishue said.

Lowes and Home Depot had great years, but Austin shoppers also went local.

“You local chains: your Ace Hardwares, your True Values; that are really family-owned and franchised, they did pretty well too,” Pishue said.

Austin shoppers avoided the mall, but they’re now returning

Visits to malls dropped 92% at the start of the pandemic and didn’t recover until this April. Some, like The Domain, saw more traffic than others. “Those malls that are kind of mid to upper-income shoppers.”

Also, Pishue says that malls that were near big box stores, Wal-Mart, Target, etc., did better than others.

Will the delta variant impact shopping habits?

Despite inflation and the delta variant, Pishue says things are looking up and people are still returning to malls and other in-person activities. In fact, this June saw 8% more visitors at Austin malls compared to pre-pandemic levels. Nationwide, that number is up 5%.

“Once delta fades away,” Pishue said, “we expect that to continue to go up, a little quicker than it has been.”

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