5 Consumer Predictions as We Head into Holiday Madness

If past is prologue, then looking at how consumers behaved during the holiday shopping season last year can give insights into how to best reach them this year. We at GroundTruth took a deep dive into our location data to come up with five trends we think you’re likely to see among your customers as they begin their end-of-year gift buying and holiday festivities.

To come up with our predictions, we analyzed unique consumer visits to various locations between November 1 and December 31, 2017. We relied on the geo-precise ad requests that we observed in our platform that were mapped back to defined business locations. Each ad request represented a real consumer on a smartphone.

Here are the five points of our holiday foot traffic forecast:

1) Shoppers will head to the stores earlier in the season but won’t finish their gift buying until the last minute

If 2017 is any indication, the holiday rush has already started. Last year, foot traffic to the stores we observed saw higher than normal foot traffic in the first two weekends of November. But that doesn’t mean that shoppers will finish early. Either customers were looking for the perfect gift or procrastinators turned out in full force. Whichever it was, shoppers were hitting the stores in larger-than-usual numbers pretty much right up until Christmas Day.

2) Taking a day off for Thanksgiving won’t hurt a retailer’s bottom line

It’s okay for you and your employees to spend Thanksgiving with your families (even if sometimes you’d rather skip the dinner-table conversation) because that’s what your customers will be doing as well. Stores that stayed open on Thanksgiving in 2017 only saw a 0.7 percent increase over average holiday foot traffic on that day. So ask yourself: Is that worth missing the pumpkin pie for?

Stores that stayed open on Thanksgiving in 2017 only saw a 0.7% over average holiday foot traffic on that day. So ask yourself: Is that worth missing the pumpkin pie for?

3) Stores are going to be their busiest on the Saturday before Christmas

It seems that people had their gifts wrapped and under the tree by Christmas Eve, but were stirring around like mad one day prior. In 2017, ‘Super Saturday’, otherwise known as December 23rd, was the day with the season’s highest volume of foot traffic to retailers. That Saturday saw a 62 percent increase of in-store shoppers over the average during the rest of the holiday season.

4) The biggest travel days will be about a week and a half before Christmas

In 2017 the busiest holiday season days in airports were December 14 and 15. Those two days were also the days when airfares were at their highest, according to Business Insider and Kayak. With all that traveling, it’s perhaps no surprise that fine dining establishments saw their maximum lift in the two weeks before Christmas, with restaurants such as Morton’s The Steakhouse and Ruth’s Chris Steak House seeing a 12 percent bump.

5) Black Friday will be the biggest day for electronics and luxury retailers

If you sell electronics or luxury goods, you might want to go easy on the second helpings during Thanksgiving dinner because chances are you’re going to be running around the floor on Black Friday servicing customers visiting your store. In 2017, foot traffic at luxury retailers such as Michael Kors and Coach was 186 percent above the holiday average. Electronics stores did even better, with outlets such as Best Buy and Apple getting a 192 percent spike in foot traffic over the holiday average.

With eMarketer forecasting that holiday sales will cross $1 trillion for the first time — of which over 80% will still happen in-store — it’s crucial that brands tap into real-world, consumer behavior to drive business. Luckily, our holiday crystal ball (aka data analysis) can help us predict such behaviors so that brands can optimize their strategies accordingly. More bang for your buck means happier management, and that’s the one gift that keeps on giving.


Nicole Genchur
Sr. Manager, Marketing Insights