3 Key Effects of 2017 Retail Calendar Shifts, this Holiday

by Brian Field on 10-31-17

With 2017 holiday sales expected to increase by up to 4% YOY,  retailers looking to see similar sales bumps should consider the effects that the ever-changing NRF retail calendar will have on seasonal foot traffic.  Here are ShopperTrak’s 3 key 2017 retail calendar shifts to bear in mind this holiday season.

  1. Saturdays in December

    2017 marks the first time since 2012 that four December Saturdays precede Christmas Day. Naturally, Saturdays in December are always some of the busiest days of the entire year, and they become increasingly busy as the month progresses. In fact, ShopperTrak’s historical data indicates that shopper visits increase each Saturday, from week to week, as Christmas Day approaches. Each of these pre-Christmas Saturdays in December is on ShopperTrak’s Top 10 Busiest Days of 2017 list.

    The fourth and final Saturday before the holiday, commonly known as Super Saturday, Dec. 23, is predicted to be the second busiest shopping day after Black Friday. Because Super Saturday falls within 48 hours of Christmas this year, shoppers are likely to hit stores at the last minute.

  2. Alignment before and after Christmas

    Considering the seven days before and after Christmas by their proximity to the holiday often yields informative insights that can greatly affect staffing decisions.This year, for example, pay attention to the Friday, the 15th; Monday, the 18th; and Friday, the 22nd. These days each serve as an extension of December weekends that are in close proximity to Christmas Day, meaning they’ll likely see higher traffic numbers than typical December Fridays and Mondays. Friday, the 22nd, in fact, is projected to be the 6th busiest day of the year.

    However, prudent retailers would be wise to also pay close attention to the calendar alignment of the week after Christmas, as the nuances of the 2017 retail calendar shifts do not end when Christmas is over. Saturday, December 30th, is another full shopping day that precedes New Year’s Eve. Shoppers will likely enjoy the extra days before the new year to exchange items, use gift cards or take advantage of the post-holiday sales.

  3. Recognize the actual, not perceived, effect of opening on Thanksgiving Day

    Generally, ShopperTrak finds that the recent trend of retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day has little effect on overall holiday performance. Indeed, Thanksgiving Day openings merely redistribute traffic numbers from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, as well as the Saturday and Sunday that follow. Historically, traffic activity erosion on those days is negatively correlated with the increase in Thanksgiving Day activity (-94%).Overall, Black Friday has remained remarkably consistent, mirroring overall YOY traffic trend. This pattern serves to substantiate the fact that the key shopping days for Thanksgiving week are always Black Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  

Looking for more holiday advice? Check out ShopperTrak’s tips on forecasting holiday traffic, what 2017’s busiest days are, or how to prep cross-functionally for the holiday.

Read more posts by Brian Field

Brian Field is the Senior Director of Retail Consulting Practice for ShopperTrak, where he oversees the application of ShopperTrak's proprietary solutions to retailer-specific issues across different functional areas in order to drive top and bottom line store performance. Prior to joining ShopperTrak, Brian served in roles of increasing responsibility at Chico’s FAS Inc., including as the director of corporate store operations and finance. Brian has spent nearly four decades in the industry, and his experience includes: store sales and management, training, merchandising, strategic planning and analysis for brands as diverse as David’s Bridal, Circuit City and Macy's.