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Holiday Shopping Trends – A Data Study

February 1, 2019 by Reveal Mobile

Consumers once again flocked to retail locations throughout the 2018 holiday shopping season. In our latest data study, we evaluated retail store foot traffic from Monday November 12th through Monday December 31st, 2018.

Black Friday Retail Foot Traffic

We first looked at foot traffic data from Black Friday. We weren’t surprised to see the rush hour of Black Friday foot traffic occur from 11am-3pm this year, as we saw similar results from last year.

As online and mobile shopping continue to grow, and major retailers continue to shift Black Friday specials earlier in the week, the idea of door busting 6am specials seems to be more media hype than what consumers are actually adopting.

Black Friday Overall Retail Visits by Hour

 

When we look across the top 7 most visited retailers on Black Friday we similar trends here, too. This surge of traffic starting around 11am local time through 3pm.

Black Friday Top 7 Retail Visits by Hour

 

Over the course of Black Friday, we saw that Walmart received 3.4% of all U.S. retail visits, followed by Target at 1.8%, Verizon Wireless at 1.4%, The Home Depot 1.4%, Lowe’s Home Improvement 1.2%, Spring 0.8%, Best Buy 0.7%.

One of the reasons you always see Walmart at the top of these charts is the simple fact that they have double, triple, and quadruple the amount of retail stores. This skews the visitation numbers in there favor, but also points to the importance of having a physical retail presence.

Black Friday's Top 7 Visited Locations

 

 

Overall 2018 Holiday Foot Traffic Trends

Now as we shift gears towards looking across the entire holiday shopping season, we see that peak retail foot traffic does take place on Black Friday. It spikes on subsequent weekends, but never quite reaches that same level of visitation as it did in November.

Retail Visitation Patterns Holidays 2018

 

When we look at the trends of retail visitation over the holiday shopping season for just the top 7 retailers, we again see that Walmart and Target dominate the retail shopping experience. As expected, there is a significant increase in retail foot traffic seen on Black Friday, 11/23/2018, which tapers off very quickly.

Overall shopping increases as the month of December marches on, with a spike in retail shopping on the final weekend before Christmas day. This spike, however, never matches that initial surge from Black Friday. Post holiday shopping also remains fairly steady, as consumers look to cash in their gift cards, exchange items, and take advantage of post holiday sales.

Top seven retail locations percentage of overall foot traffic line graph

 

Walmart takes the top spot again in 2018 for the highest percentage of overall retail visits during the holidays, with 24.1% of all retail shoppers visiting a Walmart location at least once. These big box, general purpose retailers command the most market share, with Target seeing 11.3% of all retail traffic. Roughly one out of three retail shoppers, or 35%, visited either a Walmart or Target.

The Home Depot just edges out Lowe’s Home Improvement for their share of holiday retail foot traffic, taking 9.6% of visits. Combined, almost one out of five retail shoppers visited one of these hardware giants during the holidays, or 18%.

Top seven retail locations percentage of overall foot traffic bar graph

 

A Few Thoughts

It bears repeating that the majority of retail sales still occur at physical locations. Location-based marketing, whether it be geotargeting, geofencing, or geoconquesting, plays a strategic role for marketers in helping convert their offline shoppers to loyal online shoppers.

Successful marketing of any kind requires knowing your audience, and location-based analytics is one of many great ways to build out that knowledge. Seeing that the early morning hours aren’t the hype they’re made out to be, and that retailers offer “Black Friday” discounts well in advance of Black Friday, marketers should adapt their campaigns accordingly.

Walmart’s outsized presence in these reports is a testament to the importance a sizable retail presence, but comes with a word of caution. Many retail industry observers note that the United States is over-saturated in retail. As brands sought to scale up quickly, they’ve taken on substantial debt in many cases. When they can’t meet those debt obligations, we see the headlines of store closures and bankruptcies.

Finally, for the thousands of retailers that are not the massive big box stores, they should observe the tactics of what’s working for the major players, then adapt and right-size those methods for their own campaigns.

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The data presented in this study represents aggregated, anonymized, and opted-in U.S based location data