Black Friday 2015 by the Numbers Straight from Foursquare/​Swarm Users

"Millions of phones with Foursquare and Swarm were celebrating Black Friday by hitting the shops, giving a clear model of how the overall U.S. population tackled their gift lists. Here’s what Foursquare found," Foursquare's own Jeff Glueck reveals. Overall Shopping Was Down on Black Friday "Overall retail foot traffic was down 2% year-​over-​year on Black Friday," Jeff Glueck wrote. "When you remove key offline stalwart categories like auto dealers and grocery stores, however, we saw ‑5% YoY foot traffic." "Online shopping is clearly taking a bite out of certain categories more than others. Those with bigger offline traffic declines in our data: Apparel, department stores, electronics retailers, toy stores and mobile phone stores. Brick & mortar categories which are holding up better against the shift to e‑commerce include big box retailers, bookstores, and grocery and specialty foods. Since many retailers play well in both digital and physical shopping, strong omnichannel brands may still end seeing overall sales gains, but others will not be able to make up the gap." 

"Our speculation is that brick & mortar local grocery stores (including specialty foods and liquor stores) will likely retain strength even as mobile and online commerce eat faster into other categories," Glueck said. "Also, big box retailers keep some advantages 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. In the coming few weeks of the whole holiday season this advantage will be even more true, as shipping cut-​offs come into play in the final weekend."

Shopping Is Getting Spread Out Over the Holiday Season

"In keeping with the trends we shared last week from 2014, we are seeing a continued smoothing out and “spreading out” of the shopping patterns over the course of the holiday shopping season. For instance, shopping is starting earlier: If you add in Thanksgiving day to Black Friday, 25% of traffic over the two days happened this year on Thanksgiving. Stores are opening earlier than before." 

"Daily foot traffic peaks and valleys this year are less pronounced, as Friday foot traffic the last few weeks has been closer to Sunday levels," Glueck wrote.

"And last year, the biggest single offline foot traffic day was actually Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas. We will watch whether this repeats in coming weeks. So even though Black Friday is down, there is a lot of the shopping season still to play out."

Big Surges: Best Buy and JCPenney

"We looked at a selection of retail brands above and how well they did at driving a Black Friday surge relative to their “normal day” traffic," Glueck said. "This measure is about a percentage surge of foot traffic, not to be confused with the biggest absolute share of traffic versus rival stores. It’s a metric of racing against themselves, so to speak." 

"On Black Friday, both Best Buy and JCPenney got more than 4x their normal Sunday traffic. Best Buy showed the biggest surge to its regular foot traffic, thanks to deep discounts on big ticket items. Best Buy is no surprise here; last year it also showed 4x its regular visitors. JCPenney came in second on this metric. It’s a department store chain that hasn’t been performing that well overall — but it showed that it was successful at promoting its Black Friday sales compared to its regular traffic from earlier in the month."

"Important note: Having a big surge is not necessarily a signal of the overall health of a business or how it is performing YOY. It can also be a sign that “regular” everyday traffic is low by comparison, for instance. While Walmart and Target showed lower surges, we saw in separate metrics that big box retailers like these did relatively well compared to the prior year. It may be a sign their ‘normal’ traffic is higher to begin with."

With all this data coming from Foursquare Users, aren't you curious about them now? AudienceSCAN will satisfy your curiosity then! It turns out that 61% of Foursquare Users are men, and 79% more likely than average to be aged 35 to 44. They are high-​income earners, so definitely spotlight any luxury brands for your advertisers. 50% of users live in cities. It makes sense that they spend a lot of time out on the town – 37.5% celebrated New Year's Eve at a restaurant, bar or hotel; and 32% celebrated St. Patrick's Day at a restaurant or bar. 44% are checking in on iPhones, and 49% read a blog every day. AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.