It was easier finding a parking spot last week at big box stores and shopping centers around Dallas-Fort Worth. And if you can remember what it was like before the pandemic, it was a lot easier than holiday 2019.
Customer traffic in the Dallas-Fort Worth region is tracking similar to national data. With a few local exceptions, most stores saw more customers during the Thanksgiving/Black Friday week than last year, when the pandemic’s stricter social distancing rules were in place.
New data from Placer.ai gathered from 10 shopping centers for The Dallas Morning News showed that traffic during the usually busy Black Friday week was up significantly at all the properties measured. But all were still down from 2019, with the exception of Highland Park Village, which didn’t see the same traffic declines most shopping centers did last year.
The 10 shopping center properties were selected for their geography and by the type of centers, and they’re in Dallas, Allen, Frisco, Garland, Grand Prairie, Grapevine, Mesquite and Plano. The group includes major malls to outlet centers.
Placer.ai also tracked customer traffic in the D-FW region for 10 major big box chains: Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Bed Bath & Beyond, Costco, Sam’s Club, TJX Brands (TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods), Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s and Burlington.
Those stores had traffic last week that was also below 2019 but up from last year, with the exception of Bed Bath & Beyond, which measured lower compared with both 2020 and 2019.
Experts are spending a lot of time analyzing how stores and shopping centers are recovering since the pandemic drove more consumers to try online shopping and many of them have stayed with it. And although customer counts are a key measure of shopping center performance, they don’t always provide a clear picture about sales. Even though fewer shoppers were out, they were making purchases based on the shopping bags in hand. Placer.ai, a foot-traffic analytics firm that uses location data from mobile devices, analyzed customer trends from Monday, Nov. 22, through Sunday, Nov. 28, vs. the same week last year and two years ago.
Ethan Chernofsky, vice president of marketing at Placer.ai, said this year’s earlier holiday shopping had “one clear downside” in the form of Black Friday week traffic.
“Overall declines nationwide for many retailers on Black Friday, the removal of Thanksgiving shopping across top retailers and malls, and the extended holiday season all contributed to significant weekly visits declines compared to the equivalent week in 2019,” he said. Still, he said, the continued importance of Black Friday was clear, with huge increases compared with the days that preceded it.
Black Friday is clearly not providing the same level of traffic it once did, Chernofsky said, but it continues to drive urgency and excitement, and that showed up in the data.
From Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, the number of people who shopped in stores nationwide this year increased to 104.9 million, up from 92.3 million in 2020 but still below 2019′s 124 million, according to the National Retail Federation. Likewise, Black Friday in-store shoppers increased to 66 million this year, up from 52.9 million last year but still shy of the 84.2 million who came out in 2019.
And for the first time, online sales on Cyber Monday declined, according to the Adobe Digital Economic Index, which is based on direct consumer transactions. Consumers spent $10.7 billion on Cyber Monday, down 1.4% from a year ago. It’s still the biggest online shopping day of the year.
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