Annual Holiday Prediction: The 2018 Top Ten Busiest Shopping Days

by Brian Field on 09-18-18

With children already back in school, the general public has fall fun top of mind – autumn leaves, Halloween trick-or-treating and those ever-popular pumpkin spice lattes. But U.S. retailers are already hearing the merry sound of holiday shopper traffic as they ramp up into another busy season.

At ShopperTrak, we analyze the hard facts and data points to produce the list of the top ten most anticipated U.S. holiday shopping days. These key dates account for nearly 45 percent of all shopper traffic for the entire holiday season, which makes it essential for retailers to be equipped with background on how we make our prediction and why it matters.

Introducing ShopperTrak’s Holiday Traffic Prediction – Top Ten Busiest Holiday Shopping Days for 2018:

  1. Friday, November 23 – Black Friday
  2. Saturday, December 22 – Super Saturday
  3. Saturday, December 15
  4. Sunday, December 23
  5. Saturday, November 24
  6. Saturday, December 8
  7. Friday, December 21
  8. Wednesday, December 26
  9. Saturday, December 1
  10. Saturday, December 29

Last year, not only was the traffic decline cut in half from previous years, but we saw a year-over-year increase in sales per shopper of more than three percent. This proved that shoppers are still flocking to brick-and-mortar and making purchases when they get there, reinforcing that the retail apocalypse is nothing more than a myth. Headlines tell you something different? Let’s dive into the data and dispel a few more myths.

Calendar Patterns

From 2011 to this season, the pattern of shopper activity during the holiday season is similar. Any shift is due to what day of the week Christmas Day falls on the calendar and the number of Saturdays between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. For example, Sunday, December 23 is expected to be the fourth busiest shopping day. The last time this occurred was in 2012 when Christmas Day also fell on a Tuesday.

Additionally, this year marks the third year in a row, and the last year before 2022, when there will be four Saturdays in December leading up to Christmas Day and an additional Saturday in December after the holiday. All five Saturdays will be some of the busiest traffic days this year.

Black Friday is #1

As our 2017 Black Friday Report noted, last year’s Black Friday weekend backed up our prediction from the previous year that 2016 would signal a year-over-year shopper visitor improvement. There’s no evidence that 2018 will be any different as we expect the upward trend to continue. In fact, Black Friday sees nearly one and a half times more shopper traffic than the second busiest day, Super Saturday, so it is no surprise that it tops our list again this year.

Another myth surrounding Black Friday is that it’s not only Black Friday anymore, but it’s extending to become Black November. We’ve looked at historical traffic patterns from over the past few years and the patterns of November activity before Black Friday are very consistent. It’s all about the Sunday before Thanksgiving through Black Friday weekend.

Peak Shopper Hours

Similar to last year, the hours between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. will be the busiest on the weekends, with 4:00 p.m. being the peak. This timing holds true for Black Friday as well. It will be important for retailers to make sure that they’re scheduling isn’t only aligned with the busiest days, but that it also properly matches with these afternoon hours. Taking a look at unique traffic data from previous years during the busiest days will help retailers optimally schedule their store teams.

If you enjoyed this 2018 holiday shopper prediction, be sure to stay tuned for future ShopperTrak coverage of 2018 holiday trends. For more information on ShopperTrak’s list of the busiest holiday shopping days, please see our press release and the infographic below, which includes insight into how to prepare for the 2018 holiday season.


Infographic: Top 10 Busiest Holiday Shopping Days of 2018:

[Click here to download a high-res PDF version of the infographic.]

2018 Busiest Holiday Shopping Days - A ShopperTrak Prediction infographic
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.