Data Snapshot: Tracking Retail Holiday Foot Traffic Using Mobile Data

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Retailers are opening their doors earlier and earlier on Black Friday, even creeping into Thanksgiving. As customers spread their purchases throughout the weekend, the Black Friday/Cyber Monday combination has become a hub of social media, mobile usage, and local in-store purchases.

Below we present new data from Placed showing in-store visits on Black Friday, the first in a series of nuggets you'll find on AdExchanger from the location analytics company.

Placed found retailers that were open on Thanksgiving Day had less relative growth in foot traffic compared to retailers that waited to open on Friday morning. American Eagle, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, and J.C. Penney -- none of which were open on Thanksgiving Day -- saw the highest in-store traffic increases on Black Friday, November 23, compared to their averages from the first three weeks of the month. All four retailers saw more than 4X greater foot traffic: 4.68, 4.60, 4.34, and 4.16, respectively.

Retailers that were open on Thanksgiving Day, including Kmart, Sears, and Toys ‘R’ Us, had some of the lowest relative growth in in-store visits. The increase in foot traffic for these three was 2.37, 2.49, and 2.86 respectively, compared to their averages for November 1 to 21.

The data from Placed comes from mobile users who have opted in for hyper local offers. While foot traffic is still an important measure for retailers and holiday shopping, digital tools are becoming more important for shoppers. These consumers continue to visit retail locations, but they are also leveraging their mobile devices to get offers and deals.

Overall, 247 million shoppers went to retailers’ locations and websites during the holiday weekend, according to the National Retail Federation. But digital and mobile tools also played an important role. The NRF also found, prior to the holiday weekend, that 52.9% of smartphone owners and 64.1% of tablet owners said they plan to use their devices to research and purchase holiday gifts and items.

Consumers Also Turn to Facebook

In addition to visiting stores and leveraging mobile devices, consumers continued to talk about brands and retailers on Facebook, with increased mentions of Black Friday (1,450%), shopping (586%), and sales (162%) compared to the previous week.

Retailers dominated the most talked about brands list, based on Facebook’s “People Talking about This” metric. On Black Friday, the top five brands on Facebook, in order of descending PTAT, were as follows: Walmart, Toys ‘R’ Us, Macy’s, Amazon, and Converse.

Brands also saw benefits from the increased buzz and people talking about their companies and products. On Cyber Monday, referral traffic for the top Internet retailers on Facebook increased 240% compared to the average referral traffic for the past several Mondays, Facebook reported.

For the three retailers that saw the biggest increases, Harry & David referral traffic increased 11,425%, 1-800-Flowers saw an increase of 5,477%, and Finish Line’s referral traffic was up 1,213%.

Interestingly, Finish Line was the only retailer to show up in Facebook’s most talked about brands, at number 14, and on the list of biggest increases in referral traffic, at number 3. The company had re-launched its website, ecommerce, and mobile commerce platforms earlier in November and also was the exclusive retailer for the Nike Total Blackout limited edition collection.

* Index = average daily user visits on Black Friday (11/23) divided by the average daily user visits from 11/1-11/22

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