BMO: Brookdale, Sunrise and Atria Still Record Web Traffic Above 2019 Levels


Despite all the recent disruption due to Covid-19, some of the nation’s largest senior housing providers are still seeing web traffic above pre-pandemic levels – good news for an industry eagerly awaiting what coming months will bring.

That’s according to BMO Capital Markets analysts Juan Sanabria and John Kim, who analyzed data from the SimilarWeb website for A Place for Mom (APFM); Atria Senior Living and Holiday Retreat; Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD); and Sunrise Senior Living. The analysis was distributed in a September 24 note to investors.

Since the start of the pandemic, industry operators have reported above normal web traffic, likely as a by-product of the pandemic and its restrictions on normal life, and changes from vendors to channels. digital. One unknown was whether the recent surge in Covid-19 cases driven by the emergence of the delta variant would dampen demand by 2022. But BMO analysis shows web traffic remains significantly higher than 2019 levels – although it slowed in August – giving Kim and Sanabria reassurance that recent disruptions have not brought down demand for senior housing.

“Given the nature of needs-based demand, we consider any impact from the Delta variant to be temporary, with older people likely only postponing their entry into communities,” they wrote. “We remain constructive on housing for seniors from a long-term perspective. “

Stable web traffic

In general, web traffic between APFM, Atria, Holiday, Brookdale and Sunrise was stable and highlighted the resilience of demand based on industry needs, according to BMO’s analysis.

“For some REIT operators [Atria, Brookdale, and Sunrise], web traffic in July and August grew 23.2% year-on-year, [and] The traffic of A Place for Mom increased by 4.8%, indicates the note of the analysts. “It’s important to note that the average August web traffic remains above 2019 levels (37% on average) despite the delta variant. “

Sunrise attributed the surge in consumer interest in part to its decision in March to make the Covid-19 vaccine mandatory for employees. This has been a “differentiator” with prospects and their families, according to CEO Jack Callison.

“Over the past few months, we have identified new online advertising channels to share this important message to raise awareness, which has been successful, and continue to focus on all aspects of the customer experience to include support to families as they learn more about the lives of older people. options and connect with our sales team digitally, ”Callison told Senior Housing News in a statement.

BMO’s Sanabria and Kim also noted that operators and the APFM “appear to be spending more on paid searches to generate traffic, indicating a potential impact of the Delta variant.” Holiday – which was acquired earlier this year by Atria – has resisted this trend, however, and analysts have noted that the operator has seen more organic web traffic.

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Brookdale was an outlier as its web traffic was down around 9% in August compared to the same period in 2019. However, the country’s largest operator is still attracting web traffic at levels above 30%. % to those of August 2020.

“Brookdale appears to be more aggressive than its peers in directing customer web traffic to its sales funnel,” analysts wrote. “This could be motivated by a more cautious stance in 2020.”

Brookdale continues to increase occupancy rates, although those census gains have slowed in recent months, especially in areas where the delta variant is spreading the fastest. And that’s a trend that other providers of senior residences may see in the future as well.

“Despite strong web traffic, we continue to expect a modest temporary deceleration in the sequential growth in occupancy of the Delta variant,” the analysts note said.

The influx of new users – which BMO defines as unique visitors who haven’t visited a website for at least three months – has remained fairly constant over the past few months, with the exception of a recent drop at Sunrise. which could turn out to be an “anomaly”.

Analysis of BMO’s SimilarWeb data was also used to illustrate recent trends in the seasonality of senior residences. For the past two years, web traffic has increased in June and July, dropped sequentially in August, then increased again in October before dropping towards the end of the year.

“However, we warn that it is difficult to draw firm conclusions about seasonality given the constant ebb and flow of Covid-19 cases over the past 18 months,” wrote Sanabria and Kim of BMO.

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