Restricted Retail Hours Causing Problems

Restricting retail store hours during the pandemic generates a troubling rise in consumer traffic patterns, challenging social distancing and crowd control measures, says an analysis by INEO Tech Corp., a provider of location based digital advertising, data analytics, and loss prevention solutions for retailers. Using ‘The Welcoming System,’ its network of digital advertising and anti-theft devices located at the entrance of retail stores, it analyzed traffic patterns of more than 800,000 shoppers in the month of December, including on New Year's Eve, when British Columbia liquor stores were ordered to close at 8 p.m. Virtually the identical total number of shoppers visited liquor stores on New Year's Eve as Christmas Eve (40,817 versus 42,026). However, on New Year's Eve, in the hours before the mandated 8 p.m. closing, store traffic increased by 188 per cent over the Christmas Eve customer traffic. This data analysis clearly shows restricting store hours does not reduce the number of shoppers. In fact, it creates the ‘COVID Crunch,’ where the last hour of the shopping day results in congestion and over-crowding which challenges social distancing efforts. Kyle Hall, CEO of INEO, says the data shows “the same number of people are going to shop regardless, so when hours are restricted, this forces the stores to be busier than they normally would be in the hours they are open."