In-store traffic during the six biggest weeks of the holiday season will be down 22% to 25% compared to 2019, according to ShopperTrak data from Sensormatic Solutions. The company expects the 10 busiest days to account for just 34.2% of all holiday traffic, compared to 46.5% in 2019, with sales spreading out across the holiday season.
Even though this holiday forecast is gloomy, it actually represents ongoing recovery from the worst days of the pandemic, according to Bjoern Petersen, President of Sensormatic Solutions. Traffic was down as low as -82% in April and improved to -25.7% in the week ending Sept. 19. Brick-and-mortar retailers looking to maximize foot traffic need to continue adjusting their operations to account for the pandemic.
“Now is the time for retailers to strengthen their buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup services, which are expected to grow in popularity this year,” said Petersen in a statement. “It’s also crucial to provide a safe in-store environment where shoppers feel comfortable, through offerings such as contactless checkout and real-time occupancy monitoring to adhere with social distancing guidelines.”
The busiest shopping days are expected to be Black Friday (Nov. 27), Super Saturday (Dec. 19) and the day after Christmas (Dec. 26).
“While COVID-19 is reshaping the way U.S. consumers are currently shopping and will shop for the 2020 holiday season, retailers should remain optimistic,” said Petersen. “Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve noticed a shift toward weekday shopping as consumers take advantage of the new remote work reality, while also consciously avoiding the historically large weekend crowds. We expect this trend to continue into the holiday season. U.S. consumers continue to be more purposeful in their shopping journeys, so retailers need to make sure they capitalize on every in-store visit.”