Sensormatic Solutions, the leading global retail solutions portfolio of Johnson Controls
“While COVID-19 is still making headlines as we head into the holidays, vaccine availability and retailers’ health and safety measures have put us in a different place, with many consumers more comfortable shopping in stores compared to the 2020 holiday season,” said Bjoern Petersen, president of Sensormatic Solutions. The top 10 busiest shopping days typically account for about 40% of all holiday shopping visits to physical stores. Holiday traffic for the ten busiest days in 2019 was 46.5% of the total season’s brick-and-mortar traffic whereas in 2020 the busiest shopping days accounted for 35.2%. As compared to the pre-pandemic levels of 2019, this year’s holiday traffic is predicted to be down 10 to 15%.
Holiday calendar shifts this year
Holiday sales last year hit $876 billion for the period including November and December. A major difference in this year’s holiday sales calendar will be the shift of Prime Day from October last year to June this year. Traditionally Amazon has had Prime Day in July but due to the pandemic last year, it made the decision to move the event to October spurring an onset of Black Friday deals across many retailers that started in October of 2020. The other major shift in the holiday calendar this year is Christmas landing on a Saturday which has not happened in over a decade.
The shift of Christmas to a Saturday will prompt earlier than normal holiday shopping and typically a greater surge of day after Christmas sales on Sunday. Brian Field, senior director of Sensormatic Solutions Global Retail Consulting Practice said, “Additionally, with Christmas Day on a Saturday for the first time since 2010 we expect more holiday shopper traffic than usual will occur in the days leading up to Christmas and on December 26.”
Regarding the day after Christmas falling on a Sunday in 2021, Field stated, “Operating hours may be more limited, as Sundays are a shorter business day. Limited hours, combined with people shopping much earlier during the holiday season, make us believe that the day will be slightly lower on this year’s Top Ten list at #5.”
Holiday shopping starts early again this year
Over the past few years, the holiday shopping season has started much earlier than Thanksgiving week resulting in a longer shopping season. This holiday, the trend is expected to continue and is further fueled by the current supply chain issues leading to a shortage of products and less stock in the stores. Consumers may start shopping early to ensure they receive the products on their shopping lists. “Our predicted busiest days mark the peaks of in-store traffic, but we expect that like last year, consumers will start their shopping earlier to offset inventory limitations, shipping delays and ongoing concerns about social distancing,” said Field.
There may be a positive impact to holiday shopping based on the shift to remote work as well which could result in traffic demands occurring during the weekdays as opposed to weekends. Field said, “Additionally, due to more flexible remote work hours, consumers have the opportunity to shop during the week to get ahead of their shopping for the season and avoid large crowds associated with the weekends leading up to Christmas.”
Keeping customers safe
A top concern for customers and retailers is providing a safe shopping environment. Field discussed some key strategies that retailers can implement to provide safe shopping during the busiest days. First, retailers can implement occupancy monitoring and extend operating hours to prevent overcrowding. Second, retailers can offer blended shopping options that include buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS) or curbside pickup so that shoppers can engage with the brand in any way they find comfortable. Field said, “Of course, adding operating hours and different store fulfillment options will require rethinking store labor models, so retailers will want to keep that in mind.”
The full list of predicted busiest shopping days in the U.S. is as follows:
1. Friday, November 26 – Black Friday
2. Saturday, December 18 – Super Saturday
3. Thursday, December 23 – Thursday before Christmas
4. Saturday, December 11 – 2nd Saturday in December
5. Sunday, December 26 – Day after Christmas, aka “Boxing Day”
6. Wednesday, December 22 – Wednesday before Christmas
7. Saturday, November 27 – Saturday after Thanksgiving
8. Saturday, December 4 – 1st Saturday in December
9. Tuesday, December 21 – Tuesday before Christmas
10. Sunday, December 19 – Sunday before Christmas
The annual predictions are informed by Sensormatic IQ, retail traffic data analytics within the company’s intelligent operating platform. Sensormatic Solutions‘ full predictions include top busiest holiday shopping days for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom/Ireland.