Chicago -- Up to 60% more shoppers will enter stores on Dec. 26 than on the same day last year, according to ShopperTrak, the world's largest provider of retail and mall foot traffic counting services. The reason for the increase is due to the calendar: Shoppers will come out in full force on the day after Christmas because it falls on a Monday for the first time in six years. That day will rank third in foot traffic for the holiday shopping season, surpassed only by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the Saturday one week before Christmas.
"Dec. 26 is a very important shopping day, as shoppers return unwanted gift items and shop for marked-down merchandise," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak co-founder. "If retailers depend on last year's shopper turnout and behavior as a guide for staffing and inventory plans, they will lose out on business this year. Dec. 26 is going to be a door-buster day."
According to ShopperTrak, each day of the week has a different traffic signature. Last year, Dec. 26 fell on a Sunday, a day that generally features abbreviated shopping hours, church service conflicts and even store closings tied to local "blue laws." This year, the important shopping day falls on a Monday — meaning regular shopping hours are available to consumers still on vacation and eager to leave the house on the day after the holiday.
"The last time Dec. 26 fell on a Monday was 2005," said Gary Dispensa, ShopperTrak senior economist. “We saw an increase in foot-traffic that day, due entirely to its position in the week "Using our historical data, unique econometric model and traffic counts from more than 25,000 locations across the country, we're confident foot-traffic on Dec. 26 will greatly increase from what retailers saw last year — even with the recession."
Retailers should begin planning now to convert the shopper surplus they'll see on Dec. 26 to sales, advised Martin.
"Scheduling more floor staff to minimize line abandonment, filling stock rooms with inventory and increasing store hours could make a big difference,” he said. “Don't depend on last year's experience. Only by monitoring same-store traffic can you ever really know what's going to happen in the store and make smart decisions to capture sales."