‘Tis the season for holiday sales recaps, and a new report from analytics firm Placer.ai confirms that store traffic rebounded from 2020 but was still down from pre-pandemic levels.
The research also reveals some notable shifts. For one thing, consumers' evolving shopping habits have led to an extended shopping season, as retailers hawked deals as early as October instead of solely promoting single savings days like Black Friday and “Super Saturday.” Supporting that notion, data shows that visits to Target rose 16.7% in October and 3.8% in November, but dipped 3.1% on Black Friday. Visits to department stores also declined on Black Friday compared to previous years.
In addition to a longer season for holiday purchases, Placer.ai’s report found that overall retail visits were still close to, and in some cases ahead of, trips in 2019 and well over 2020 levels. This is noteworthy, the researchers pointed out, given high profile concerns in late 2021 about product availability during twin labor and supply chain challenges.
“The shift to extend the season is important not just because it empowered retailers to succeed under difficult and unique circumstances. The shift is also critical because it signifies the ability of retailers to shape consumer behavior through effective communication and incentivization in order to create a win/win,” observed Ethan Chernofsky, VP of marketing at Placer.ai.
He went on to note: “By articulating the challenges and effectively incentivizing the change that would help overcome them, the wider retail sector was able to impact an existing consumer behavior for the better of all parties. This is an important lesson as both consumers and retailers continue to grapple with an environment that is still finding a new equilibrium post the disruption caused by COVID. Optimistically, it offers the hope that the future retail environment could be better for all parties involved.”
Minneapolis-based Target Corp. is No. 6 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, with nearly 1,900 locations.