Which Hardware Store Gets The Most Foot Traffic?

Whether you're renovating a space, searching for topsoil, or just looking to winnow down a few hours on a Saturday morning, the hardware store is calling. These industrial havens can make home improvement much less intimidating, thanks to their wide selection of useful items. Plus, there's a huge advantage to shopping for building materials and tools in-person rather than guessing wildly while shopping online, as noted by Nationwide. But which hardware store gets the most foot traffic, and why? 

Four of the major hardware stores are Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe's, and Menard's. These retailers operate in much of the United States, and some even have international locations. Additionally, they all offer distinct shopping experiences — in fact, you probably know which outlet you prefer off the top of your head. You may even have one you like for certain types of projects, and a different one for other tasks. But there are still two clear runaway leaders in foot traffic, according to the data.

Americans say bigger is better

While Ace Hardware has roughly twice as many locations in the U.S. as Home Depot — with over 5,000 storefronts — it receives much less foot traffic than Home Depot or Lowe's (though close to what Menard's gets, hovering around 200,000 visitors per month on average). Why do these two juggernauts pull in so much more, peaking at 2.8 million during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic? 

One reason may be size; Home Depot reports that its stores, on average, have over 100,000 square feet of space, and Lowe's boasts similar numbers. However, Ace Hardware — a cooperative — operates more like a local corner store, with locations typically having 10,000 to 30,000 square feet total. Because of this size difference, Ace is unable to carry a larger variety of inventory, or be able to offer bigger items like lumber, ready-to-assemble sheds, etc. — and greater variety often equals more customers coming into the store. 

Size isn't everything, though! Menard's locations, per Time, are even bigger in square footage than Home Depot or Lowe's, with stores on average having 200,000 square feet of space. So why are their foot traffic numbers similar to Ace Hardware when they have just as much room for inventory as their big box counterparts? The answer is actually pretty simple: Menard's is a Wisconsin-based franchise that has only 351 locations, most of which are concentrated in the Midwest. Its western-most store is in Wyoming, leaving much of the west Menard's-less.