How will Black Friday impact bricks-and-mortar footfall?

In Europe, there is no doubt that Black Friday has reached unprecedented levels of popularity; according to Adobe Digital Insights, spending has grown by 124% in the past four years.

This is certainly having an impact on how retailers and shopping centres plan their seasonal promotions, as we discussed in our recent blog, welcome to Black November.

However, when it comes to retail activity on the day itself – which this year falls on 25th November – not all channels are created equal. In 2014, we saw scenes of busy stores splashed across the media, with shoppers fighting in the aisles to secure a bargain.

Last year, though, Black Friday traffic swung away from stores towards online, with some regions experiencing a decline in footfall compared to the previous year. For example, in the UK, where Black Friday is most firmly established in Europe, footfall figures fell by more than 4%.

How will Black Friday 2016 impact retail stores and shopping centres?

While UK footfall dipped last year compared to 2014, further analysis of ShopperTrak data from last year reveals that Black Friday had a positive impact on European consumer activity as a whole – which bodes well for this year.

For example, in Portugal there was a huge +17.41% increase in retail traffic on Black Friday 2015 compared to the previous year. Italy saw Year-on-Year footfall increase by +11.10% and Spain by +8.53%. Two other regions, Poland and France, also experienced footfall improvements of +6.26% and +0.38%.

In fact, only two of the regions we surveyed suffered a drop in footfall – Germany and the UK – and even then, Week-on-Week retail activity improved on Black Friday compared to the Friday before and after the event.

To see more essential statistics, download our Black Friday infographic.

How can retail businesses optimise their Black Friday 2016 performance?

Looking at the data from last year, how retailers prepare for and anticipate Black Friday retail traffic will depend on the regions in which they operate.

For example, in countries where footfall improved last year, there is a solid business case for bringing Black Friday promotions into the bricks-and-mortar environment. Even though online shopping saw growth on Black Friday last year, the strong consumer activity figures demonstrate that there is a real appetite for bricks-and-mortar deals as well, so it is important that all channels are aligned in terms of value for money.

Even in regions where Black Friday’s offline presence may not be as strong, there is still an opportunity to streamline the customer experience for those shoppers who do decide to visit a physical retail store.

Whether or not retailers choose to slash prices on 28th November given previous footfall figures in their region, Black Friday marks the start of the holiday shopping season – when pressures on bricks-and-mortar reach their peak.

On busy days like Black Friday and beyond, the customer experience cannot suffer just because there are higher-than-average levels of shopper traffic. To avoid chaotic scenes, retail businesses need to understand when footfall is likely to peak during the day, so they can plan their marketing, staffing, replenishment and queue management strategies around the busiest times of day.

By optimising the store or centre operationally in this way, shoppers are far more likely to enjoy a pleasant encounter – making them more likely to return even when Black Friday is over.

To understand how shopper activity fluctuates across your business by hour, day, week and season, talk to us about our ShopperTrak Analytics Suite.

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