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Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on March 13. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Social distancing and self-quarantine measures have impacted foot traffic at movie theaters, airports, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, warehouse stores and just about everywhere else during the coronavirus outbreak according to the location technology company Foursquare.

In a report released this week, the company, which acquired Seattle-based Placed a year ago, measured foot traffic patterns between Feb. 19 and March 13 in Seattle, San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.

While a lot has already changed in the week since, and will surely change even more in the week ahead, the data illustrates the rapid adjustment in lifestyle taking place in the country during this crisis.


(Foursquare Graphics) Click to enlarge.

Foot traffic to airports has declined most in Seattle and the Bay Area, down 24 percent to 27 percent from the week ending Feb. 19 to the week ending March 13. New York airports were down 22 percent and Los Angeles was down 15 percent as Americans shifted their travel plans.

Movie theaters

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Crowded experiences are taking a hit as many places have instituted guidance calling for no gatherings of more than 50 people: Visits to movie theaters are declining in all four cities as people stuck at home are likely choosing to stream content at home and avoid public spaces. Nationally, visits to movie theaters are down 24 percent from the report’s targeted week. Seattle and New York cinemas have seen the greatest drop, down approximately 33 percent.


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Foot traffic to casual dining chains was down 11 percent nationally as people avoided sit-down restaurants before many of them started closing under order at the beginning of this week. Fast-foot establishments on the other hand saw an 11-percent jump in traffic. In the days since March 13, Washington state has ordered all bars and restaurants closed.

Grocery stores and warehouse stores

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People were definitely stocking up on supplies for the uncertain near future. Visits to warehouse stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club were up nearly 39 percent, and the New York City area saw the biggest jump at 51 percent. Grocery stores also saw a sharp spike in visits around March 11-13, with visits up 19 percent nationally.

Meanwhile, Kirkland, Wash.-based traffic analytics company INRIX, which has been measuring COVID-19’s effect on commute times and travel speeds, also looked at the impact on retail by analyzing traffic in the Seattle area to bulk stores and grocery stores.

Just a week into the coronavirus epidemic, Seattle saw radical changes in patterns around consumer behavior, including decreased traffic to malls where people presumably exercised caution when it came to exposure to crowds and non-essential shopping needs.

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