From the Macroscope: Home Improvement Stores End 2015 With a Whimper

Parking lots outside of major retail chains can be an indicator of a business’ profits. Orbital Insight analyzes millions of satellite images to detect the number of cars in over 55,000 parking lots and track how these numbers fluctuate over time. We track 50 retail chains, including some of the largest in the US, covering nine North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) segments.

All this gives us real-time insight into consumer traffic trends, which we have proven to be predictive of beats and misses in the consensus estimates.

Our biggest impression this month was that consumers aren’t taking on home improvement projects as much in December, or at least aren’t going to the store for their supplies. Orbital Insight saw widespread weakness at home improvement stores in December 2015 with eight out of ten national chains tracked showing decelerations in their year-over-year growth rate versus their year-over-year growth rate in the period spanning October-November 2015.

Orbital Insight saw accelerations at Tractor Supply Company (TSCO), Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (LOW), but the majority of competitors like Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. (BBBY), Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. (ETH), Home Depot Inc. (HD), Kirkland’s, Inc. (KIRK), Lumber Liquidators Holdings Inc. (LL), Pier 1 Imports Inc (PIR), Sherwin-Williams Co (SHW), Williams-Sonoma, Inc. (WSM) all showed decelerating traffic.

This deceleration could be a result of many factors. Cold snaps have plagued much of the nation recently. Are consumers shopping online more than in-store during the holidays? Or could they be holding off on home improvement plans until the new year?

Orbital Insight’s data can help you better understand and characterize socioeconomic trends at global, regional, and hyperlocal scales. For more, please reach out to and

About Orbital Insight

Orbital Insight is a geospatial big data company leveraging the rapidly growing availability of satellite, UAV, and other geospatial data sources that works at the intersection of two trends that are changing how we do business: big data and the commercialization of space. Orbital’s sophisticated technology serves as a “macroscope” that zeroes in on the details of satellite images to help make better financial predictions. From cars in parking lots to trees in the rainforest, Orbital can analyze any type of aerial imagery at massive scale to deliver insights that help professionals make smart market decisions. Orbital is focused on transforming images from space into insights we can use right away, here on earth.