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Restricting Shopping Hours Causes a COVID Crunch, When Customer Traffic Soars in the Hour Before Closing

Friday, January 22, 2021 4:33:00 PM

- INEO data shows restricting shopping on New Year's Eve Caused Customer Traffic to increase by 188% in the hour before closing. -

An analysis by INEO Tech Corp., an innovative provider of location based digital advertising, data analytics and loss prevention solutions for retailers shows restricting retail store hours during the pandemic generates a troubling rise in consumer traffic patterns, challenging social distancing and crowd controls.

Using The Welcoming System, INEO's network of digital advertising and anti-theft devices located at the entrance of retail stores, INEO was able to analyze traffic patterns of more than 800,000 shoppers in the month of December, including on New Year's Eve, when BC liquor stores were ordered to close at 8 PM.

Virtually the identical total number of shoppers visited liquor stores on New Year's Eve as Christmas Eve (40,817 vs 42,026). However, on New Year's Eve, in the hours before the BC Health mandated 8:00PM closing, store traffic increased by 188% 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. INEO is publishing this data to assist public health decision makers, businesses, and the public to better manage this phenomenon during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the Company is publishing this overcrowding effect on key holiday dates in December, the effect can be seen whenever retail hours are restricted in stores which provide essential services.

"Public health officials in Canada have done an amazing job managing us through the COVID crisis in the face of a large number of unknowns, one of those being what happens when retail shopping hours are restricted," said Kyle Hall, CEO of INEO. "INEO now has the data which shows restricting shopping hours does not reduce the number of shoppers going to retail stores, but actually may increase risk."

Hall added, "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. Our data suggests that restricting retail store hours produces situations which could increase COVID-19 transmission risks. The BC Health order to close liquor stores early on New Year's Eve did not reduce the number of shoppers, it made the traffic in the hour before closing spike by 188%, creating what we have been calling the COVID Crunch."

INEO is continuing to track and share this data, to support all parties in protecting workers and the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.