America’s Most Popular Stores

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America’s most visited stores are popular for a variety of reasons. According to data provided by Placed, a consumer habits data service provider that monitors behavior of more than 150,000 American consumers at 150 million locations daily, the most popular brands are primarily in the fast-food, discount retail and pharmacy segments.

Half of the most visited retailers are fast-food chains. Placed founder and CEO David Shim explained that while you don’t need household supplies every day, “three times a day or more you need to eat, so there’s a higher propensity to visit these types of businesses.” The lower price per transaction at fast-food chains compared to other retailers also helps them to attract consumers, Shim noted.

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Consumers also regularly shop at the country’s biggest drugstore chains and big-box retailers. In addition to selling widely purchased goods, these retailers have the most locations in the country. Walgreens, 7-Eleven and CVS Caremark all had more than 7,000 U.S. locations in 2012, among the most stores nationwide. Food chains were even more numerous. Subway, McDonald’s and Starbucks were all among the top five companies by store count, each with well over 14,000 U.S. locations in 2012.

Many of the most popular stores with consumers tended to have large advertising budgets. According to Shim, “From our perspective, [advertising] dollars do matter in terms of driving traffic in the store.” In fact, seven of the 10 most popular stores were among the top-spenders on advertising nationwide in 2011 and 2012, according to Advertising Age, a magazine providing market and industry data.

Placed found that consumers’ habits differed considerably by gender and income level. “Fast food typically tends to skew more men than women,” Shim said. In contrast, retail shoppers skew female. While men and women were equally likely to go to Starbucks, shoppers at Target were 16% more likely to be women, and Taco Bell diners were 13% more likely to be men.

Americans making more than $100,000 per year were on the whole were more likely to shop at big-box retailers and drugstores than those making between $25,000 and $100,000. On the other hand, consumers making less than $25,000, were more likely to eat at three of the most popular fast food restaurants — Burger King, McDonald’s and Taco Bell — than those making more than $100,000.

To determine the nation’s most popular stores, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from location analytics company Placed. Placed calculated the percentage of Americans who visited various stores in March 2014. The group also provided demographic and socioeconomic data on customers for various retailers and restaurants. These are indexed to a base of 100, representing the average American consumer. We also reviewed 2012 U.S. sales and store count data from the National Retail Federation’s Stores.org, as well as advertising expenditure figures from AdAge covering 2011 and 2012.

These are America’s most popular stores.