Study Predicts In-Store Traffic Could Be Down By 25% This Holiday

In-store traffic this holiday season could be down by as much as 25%, according to a new study from ShopperTrak.

The report, which was released Tuesday, forecasts that throughout the six weeks of peak 2020 holiday shopping, in-store traffic will likely be down by 22%–25% year-over-year.

That American consumers are hesitant to shop in densely populated environments should be a shock to no one at this point. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against entering crowded places while the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. A wholly indiscriminate virus, it’s currently blazing through the West Wing, having infected President Trump and a majority of his staff. 

Pair the stark reality of COVID, which has killed more than 209,000 people in the United States, with fears about the coming flu season, and you have the perfect storm for flagging foot traffic in indoor malls, stand-alone stores, and big box retail locations, alike.

The ShopperTrak study further predicts that the 10 busiest days in 2020 will account for 34.2% of all holiday traffic, as compared to 46.5% in 2019. As a result, the study posits, “the typical holiday traffic peaks will flatten, with more days sharing importance throughout the season.”

How can retailers mitigate the loss of foot traffic? For starters, they should consider every shopping day critical and also look at sprinkling the incentives they’ve planned for Black Friday or Super Saturday throughout the entire season.

The study also recommends that retailers strengthen their buy-online-pick-up-in-store and curbside-pickup services now and strive 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 report reads.

But strengthening curbside-pickup protocols also means protecting a retail business from a liability perspective, says Greg Smith, executive vice president of claims and Berkley Asset Protection.

Smith advises retailers to shield themselves from accidents, theft, and consumer claims by: verifying the identity of the person picking up the item with a name and photo identification, setting up the pickup location “as far back from the road as possible and as close to your store as possible,” and by bringing out only the item being picked up at that time, which works to thwart theft.

(Photo: Billie Grace Ward)

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JCK Magazine Editor