10 days account for almost half of all holiday traffic

Christmas decorations
The 10 busiest shopping days make up 45% of all holiday store traffic.

Black Friday will once again be the busiest shopping day of the year, followed by the two Saturdays preceding Christmas.

ShopperTrak announced its annual list of the top 10 busiest shopping days of the year, which leads with Friday, Nov. 24, followed by Dec. 23 and Dec. 16. As there are four weekends in December this year, every Saturday of the month made the top 10 list, as did the few days leading up to Christmas and the day after Black Friday, Saturday, Nov. 25.

“Based on our historical analysis, we know that Black Friday will remain the busiest shopping day for brick-and-mortar retail,” said Brian Field, senior director of advisory services at ShopperTrak. “The Thanksgiving Day weekend, which includes Black Friday as the busiest day and Nov. 25 as the fifth busiest day, will be a critical span of days for retailers as they head into the holiday season.”

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These 10 busiest days will account for between 40% and 45% of all shopping visits made during the entire 2017 holiday season.

"The biggest challenge will be protecting the top 10 days," Field told FierceRetail. "It will need to be all hands on deck for those dates and logistics must be considered, in order to ensure that all locations have the right product at the right times for each shopper. If they already have historic traffic data, retailers should leverage that store-specific information to determine that their own historical shopping trends match up to our predictions and adjust accordingly."

ShopperTrak notes that the four Saturdays in December will elevate the importance of Dec. 23, Super Saturday, and Dec. 16. Plus, as Dec. 30 is the Saturday right before New Year's Eve, retailers will need to make sure they keep the shelves stocked well beyond Dec. 26. 

In order to be prepared, Field says that retailers need to remember that where customers shop and browse isn't necessarily where they will make a final purchase. Therefore, successful brands will align their in-store and online strategies.

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In addition, Field says retailers will need to properly train store associates in assisting customers who want to shop online and pickup in-store and/or are simply using the store for easy returns. 

"Not only do they need to be trained in processes, they need to be trained in brand service expectations. This might include rethinking compensation strategies and certainly should include a review of labor hours required to help these unique customers. The entire organization needs to work together as brand representatives rather than as competing channels," he said. 

However, if the brand is purely online, then the retailer needs to focus their attention on the days and times where online traffic history provides guidance on the prime shopping periods for this channel. A great example of this is that while bricks benefit greatly from the entire Black Friday weekend traffic, they show no evidence of any impact from Cyber Monday online traffic.