Devicescape’s stats are in for the Black Friday and Thanksgiving week, and once again our users benefitted from high performance Wi-Fi connections in many top retail establishments while shopping for bargains. The numbers show big increases in Black Friday foot traffic at many U.S. merchants compared to normal levels.
First, a quick note about the numbers: We collect all our statistics based on UTC times, so 11/29/13 in the charts (except where noted otherwise) is really 7 p.m. EST/4 p.m. PST on Thanksgiving Day through to the same time on Black Friday. That handily groups all the traffic from the stores that started their sales events on the Thursday evening, too, but it means that the late afternoon/evening of Black Friday is rolled into Saturday’s numbers.
Target started their sale at 8 p.m. on Thursday night, and the stores near us were all very busy. The numbers indicate a 2.5X increase in foot traffic for that day.
Although, by Sunday, the levels were dropping back down to near normal for weekends, so the Black Friday phenomenon still appears to be just the one-day event and not a whole weekend phenomenon. Charts for Apple, Macy’s, and Barnes & Noble stores show similar traffic patterns.
Target stayed open through Thursday night right through their close on Friday evening, but the hourly traffic still shows quite a lull in the early hours of the morning. (The dates below have been adjusted to show PST, but no correction was made for the different time zones of the stores.)
The pattern for the week at big grocery stores was very different, as you’d expect. Traffic peaked at Midwestern chain Hy-Vee on Wednesday as shoppers completed last minute Thanksgiving purchases for their Thursday feasts.
The extra two- or three-hour time difference from UTC means more of that late Wednesday purchasing at Safeway (mainly on the West Coast) was attributed to Thanksgiving Day in the stats. It looks like Wednesday evening would be a bad time to avoid the checkout lines!
Looking back at the Target numbers above, you will also see a small bump in traffic on Wednesday, no doubt from the people picking up some groceries in Target. However, unlike the other grocery stores, Target was not open on Thursday morning for last-minute groceries, so their Thursday stats show a bigger drop than the other grocery stores saw. (Perhaps next year Target will stay open all day to catch some of that last-minute morning grocery traffic?)
Always a high-traffic venue for our Wi-Fi users, McDonald’s showed a small dip on Thanksgiving Day, but not the dip you might expect for the biggest family holiday event of the year. The traffic over the weekend remained at normal levels.
In our previous look at Black Friday numbers, back in 2011, Home Depot’s statistics dropped on Black Friday compared to their normal levels. This year, however, Home Depot’s traffic showed an increase over their normal daily levels:
As we saw a couple of years back, our Wi-Fi statistics, when coupled with the fact that we automatically connect to the networks in these stores, allow us to measure changes in foot traffic at stores with free Wi-Fi from one day to the next (even one hour to the next).
But it isn’t all about the statistics. The users who contributed to our insight above also benefitted from free, high-performance Wi-Fi while they were shopping. Complementary, amenity wi-fi enables them to share photos, compare online prices, read product reviews, and more–without tapping into their cellular data plans and without the frustration caused by having a weak cellular signal indoors.
And it’s not just for Thanksgiving. Every day at tens of millions of locations worldwide we can automatically connect mobile data users to fast, seamless Wi-Fi without them paying a penny more for it.