Black Friday Mall and Superstore Traffic Down 5%

Empty mall (Patrick Semansky / Associated Press)
Patrick Semansky / Associated Press
Newport Beach, CA

Retail analysts at Foursquare Direct reported that Black Friday shopping traffic was down only 2 percent, but mall and superstores sector traffic plunged by 5 percent.

Although some analysts thought that concerns about potential terrorism might keep Americans from shopping and traveling, AAA estimated that 46.9 million Americans took a car, plane, bus or train at least 50 miles from home over the long holiday weekend. That was up more than 300,000 people over last year, and the most travelers since 2007.

Foursquare Direct Swarm and Foursquare apps provide mobile search and discovery services that track places their users go, the things they have told the app they like, and the reaction from other users whose advice they trust.

With about half of their 55 million worldwide users in the U.S., and equally balanced between male and female, their geo-location tracking service is considered the best predictor of retail traffic activity.

The average shopping trip on Black Friday was 4.9 hours in duration. But long lines limited shopping to just 2.8 stores visited per shopper. The biggest retail traffic increase in the nation was in Panama City, Florida.

Shopping online took a big chunk out of certain categories more than others.

The biggest offline traffic declines were seen in apparel, department stores, electronics retailers, toy stores and mobile phone stores. Traditional brick-and-mortar categories that held up best were big box retailers, bookstores, and grocery and specialty foods.

Foursquare Direct expects that “omnichannel” retailers that are established in both digital and physical shopping formats may still show positive sales performance for the year. Shoppers seem drawn to big-box retailers during holiday shopping because of the breadth of merchandise and deals, and the ability of consumers to touch the merchandise and drive home with it.

Consistent with 2014, Foursquare Direct reports that shopping is smoothing out and spreading out. With many retailers opening on Thanksgiving Day with “door-buster” pricing, 25 percent of traditional Black Friday sales seem to have been pulled forward to Thursday. Daily foot traffic peaks and valleys this year were less pronounced, with Friday foot traffic the last few weeks about the same as Sunday levels.

The big traffic winners in retail shopping over the two-day period were 4 percent gains by BestBuy and JC Penney. On Black Friday, both retailers received more than 4 times their average Sunday traffic. Other strong performers with 3 percent traffic gains included Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and the Sports Authority.

The biggest Black Friday losers were TJ Maxx and Walmart, with just 1 percent foot traffic gains.