Last week and into the weekend, social media was rife with images and videos of stripped-bare retail shelves as consumers headed to their local bix-box retailers to stock up on self-quarantine necessities like toilet paper, sanitizer, and canned goods. Because people were posting updates from various big-box retailers, we were able to observe a steep uptick in foot-traffic via Facebook "Were Here" count data. This count measures the number of status updates, selfies, and comments posted from retailers.

What we saw at the largest retailers is emblematic of the panic buying currently occurring throughout the world as people hunker down for the coronavirus outbreak.


At Walmart ($WMT), customers grabbed everything they could, sending foot traffic numbers soaring across its thousands of locations. As of March 13, Walmart's "Were Here" count was 22,248,826. Just a month ago, that count was 22,103,140. That's a 145,686 gain in selfies and status updates in that time, with a marked increase in the past week. For comparison sake, in the previous month, Walmart picked up 83,245 Were Here counts. In just 3 days from March 10 to March 13, Walmart's Were Here count jumped by 40,893.

Sam's Club

Sam's Club, the warehouse giant — and part of the Walmart monolith — saw its own share of foot traffic pickup in the past few days. As of March 13, Walmart's "Were Here" count hit 3,222,674 up 30,318 from a month previous. But in just the past three days, it picked up 9,517 of those selfies, check-ins, and status updates.


Costco ($COST), the other warehouse giant, has seen its share of foot traffic spike in the past few days. Costco's "Were Here" count hit 4,035,416 on March 13, up from 3,974,661 30 days previous. That's a gain of 60,755 in that time. Of that gain, 16,921 Were Here's occurred in just three days.


Target ($TGT), not to be outdone by its larger competitors, saw its share of panic buying and traffic spikes as recorded by "Were Here" counts. By March 13, that number hit 5,000,140, up 39,341 since a month ago. In just 3 days, Target's "Were Here" count jumped 7,831.

We're likely to see these numbers grow over the past three days as that data comes in from the weekend. When it does, check back for an update. In the meantime, be safe, and only buy what you need.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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