Black Friday Data: Full Weekend Shopper Traffic Report

by Bill McCarthy on 11-29-16

Now that all of our Black Friday data from the entire Thanksgiving weekend (Thurs. – Sun.) has rolled in, we feel confident in stating that our 2016 shopper visit data signals that the era of steep YOY declines in shopper visits around Friday may be coming to an end. This does not mean that shopper visits levels will cease to decrease YOY. Rather, that traffic levels may begin to fluctuate less wildly. Here’s why:

For starters, when looking at traffic levels for the holiday week as a whole (Sunday, 11/20 – Sunday 11/27), we see that the rate of decline has decreased enormously YOY: 2% in 2016 vs. 5% in 2015. Fortunately for retailers, we see that this trend holds true even when you slice our data into a bunch of different pieces.

We’ve already reported that  our 2016 extended Black Friday data shows that traffic is down merely 1% YOY, and that traffic  levels on Black Friday itself (12 AM – 11:59 PM) were the same this year as they were in 2015. Yet, we now have data from the remainder of Thanksgiving weekend that also supports the notion that drastic YOY decreases in traffic counts might become a thing of the past.

This year, the Saturday after Black Friday saw much higher traffic levels than anticipated: traffic decreased only 2.1%, as opposed to -8.7% in 2015. Similarly, the Sunday of the same weekend saw just a 2.5% decrease in traffic YOY.

Black Friday Full weekend shopper traffic

Additionally, we found that drilling into Black Friday data in our Market Intelligence product, revealed that a few segments were highly successful, traffic-wise, this year, including:

  • Luxury: +3.17% nationally YOY over the extended Black Friday weekend
  • Wireless and Electronics: +8.5% nationally YOY on Black Friday
  • Jewelry: +8% nationally YOY on Black Friday

And while it’s seems logical to determine that shoppers increasingly visited these types of stores due to door busters or steep discounts, it would skew the truth. Why? Because each of these segments underwhelmed during the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend, despite the fact that promotional efforts were equally prevalent during that time period.

Instead, a myriad of more significant factors should be acknowledged, as they directly impact retail sales. They include: store closures on Thanksgiving Day (which contributed to pent-up demand on Black Friday), improved consumer sentiment, and a drastically increased U.S. disposable personal income, among a variety of other factors. And as economic factors appear on the uptick, all signs points to a successful 2016 holiday for retail.

Finally, when drilling down to the hourly level, a notable insight for retail operators is our determination of peak hours on the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Specifically, shopper visits peak at 3 p.m. on both Black Friday (as was predicted in our earlier post) and Saturday.

Black Friday Full weekend shopper traffic

The nearly mirrored distribution of shopper visits over the last several years, indicates that general shopper behavior trends don’t change drastically from year-to-year, so retailers plan accordingly – e.g., by aligning their inventory, staffing, stocking and additional operations accordingly.

Not to mention, shoppers who are looking to avoid the crowds should take note, as well.


Read more posts by Bill McCarthy

Bill McCarthy is the General Manager of the Americas, in which he oversees regional efforts pertaining to the Traffic Insights business unit.