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retail hero weighs in on Q1 2024 retail sector performance

Retail’s positive Q1 performance leaves plenty of room for optimism about what’s in store for the rest of 2024,'s Q1 study finds.

Despite ongoing concerns about the economy, retail is thriving. This finding comes from’s Q1 2024 Retail & Dining Review, which takes a wide-ranging look at the retail sector’s performance during Q1 2024. 

Overall, nationwide retail visits have been up year-over-year and increasing — with visits up 6.1% during the week of March 25 (the most recent available data). “Though prices remain high and consumer confidence has yet to fully regain its footing, retail’s healthy Q1 showing may be a sign of good things to come in 2024,” the white paper notes.

The first quarter of 2024 was generally a good one for retailers. Though unusually cold and stormy weather left its mark on the sector’s January performance, February and March saw steady year-over-year weekly visit growth that grew more robust as the quarter wore on. 

Read more: Retail sales steadily climbing]

March ended on a high note, with the week of March 25 – including Easter Sunday – seeing a 6.1% YoY visit boost, driven in part by increased retail activity in the run-up to the holiday. (Last year, Easter fell on April 9, 2023, so the week of March 25 is being compared to a regular week.)

Though prices remain high and consumer confidence has yet to fully regain its footing, retail’s healthy Q1 showing may be a sign of good things to come in 2024. 

Success Across Categories:

Drilling down into the data for leading retail segments demonstrates the continued success of value-priced, essential and wellness-related categories. 

Discount & Dollar Stores led the pack with 11.2% YoY quarterly visit growth, followed by Grocery Stores, Fitness, and Superstores – all of which outperformed Overall Retail. Dining also enjoyed a YoY quarterly visit bump, despite the segment’s largely discretionary nature. And despite the high interest rates continuing to weigh on the housing and home renovation markets, Home Improvement & Furnishings maintained just a minor YoY visit gap. 

Discount & Dollar Stores: 

Discount & Dollar Stores experienced strong YoY visit growth throughout most of Q1 – and as go-to destinations for groceries and other other essential goods, they held their own even during mid-January’s Arctic blast. In the last week of March, shoppers flocked to leading discount chains for everything from chocolate Easter bunnies to basket-making supplies – driving a remarkable 21.5% YoY visit spike.

[Read more: Dollar General reports Q4, fiscal year 2023 results

Dollar General Reins Supreme:

Dollar General continued to dominate the Discount & Dollar Store space in Q1, with visits to its locations accounting for nearly half of the segment’s quarterly foot traffic (44.7%). Next in line was Dollar Tree, followed by Family Dollar and Five Below. Together, the four chains – all of which experienced positive YoY quarterly visit growth – drew a whopping 91.6% of quarterly visits to the category.

Grocery Stores:

Like Discount & Dollar Stores, traditional Grocery Stores were relatively busy through January as shoppers braved the storms to stock up on needed items. Momentum continued to build throughout the quarter, culminating in a 10.5% foot traffic increase in the week ending with Easter Sunday. 

Aldi Leads the Way:

Like in other categories, it was budget-friendly Grocery banners that took the lead. No-frills Aldi drove a chain-wide 24.4% foot traffic increase in Q1, by expanding its fleet – while also growing the average number of visits per location. Other value-oriented chains, including Trader Joe’s and Food Lion, experienced significant foot traffic increases of their own. And though conventional grocery leaders like H-E-B, Kroger and Albertsons saw smaller visit bumps, they too outperformed Q1 2023 by meaningful margins.


Superstores – including wholesale clubs – are prime destinations for big, planned shopping expeditions – during which customers can load up on a month’s supply of food items or stock up on home goods. And perhaps for this reason, the category felt the impact of January’s inclement weather more than either dollar chains or supermarkets – which are more likely to see shoppers pop in as needed for daily essentials.

But like Grocery Stores and Discount & Dollar Stores, Superstores ended the quarter with an impressive YoY visit spike, likely fueled by Easter holiday shoppers.

Warehouse Clubs Continue to Thrive:

As in Q4 2023, membership warehouse chains – Costco Wholesale, BJ’s Wholesale Club and Sam’s Club – drove much of the Superstore category’s positive visit growth, as shoppers likely engaged in mission-driven shopping to stretch their budgets. Still, segment mainstays Walmart and Target also enjoyed positive foot traffic growth, with YoY visits up 3.9% and 3.5%, respectively.

Good Things to Come:

January 2024’s stormy weather left its mark on the Q1 retail environment, especially for discretionary categories. But as the quarter progressed, retailers rallied, with healthy YoY foot traffic growth that peaked during the last week of March – the week of Easter Sunday. All in all, retail’s positive Q1 performance leaves plenty of room for optimism about what’s in store for the rest of 2024.

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