After a prosperous summer and high occupancy rates, the senior housing industry is experiencing a post-Summer seasonal adjustment in their business. Historical Internet search patterns and conversations across the industry prove that this may not be a surprising change of pace.
With very strong performances in both July and August, SeniorHomes.com discovered that several companies are reporting a change in business during September. This trend appears to plague a broad spectrum with lower levels of both inquiries and move-ins in September among both large and small companies.
One very positive trend is that the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC) is reporting a 4-year high occupancy rates of 88.8% across Assisted Living. According to the NIC, the occupancy rate for senior housing has consistently increased for the past 10 quarters. With such consistent growth, the lower level of September move-ins should not be surprising in advance of the upcoming Holiday Season.
Historical Data Confirms the Trend
A review of SeniorHomes.com internal historical data and keyword search traffic patterns shows that September, October and even early November, are typically times when lower numbers of families seek information and care compared to the Summer months. Internet searches for Assisted Living dropped 10% after the Summer months. Industry history shows that the current reduction in business is simply the ebb and flow of seasonal activity and not necessarily a sign of a downturn.
Summer Activities Affect the Cycle
Every trend has its driving forces and this one is no different. The potential reason for the continual decrease in September, October and November is that there are certain times of year when people devote more time to focus on their broader family. While most industry veterans know there are busier times after each major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.), Summer is now starting to mirror this effect.
This trend is not the same as “seasonality” for traditional retailers, who get around 40% of their business during the holiday months. In assisted living, at any time of year, there are always many families who need information or need to connect with senior living communities, but for people who are planning this move for themselves or a loved one, it seems that summer is the peak time. As people plan for their summer vacations or downtime, people often spend time thinking about their family situations and senior living arrangements which sparks a higher level of activity in July and August and a bit less in September and October as life gets back into full swing.
The data proves that the industry should not be alarmed by the downturn, but use this as an opportunity to review and enhance business and marketing tactics. As history is proven to repeat itself, new ideas and directions will be needed with the next influx of business that is right around the corner.