By Michelle Graff
The busiest day of the 2018 holiday shopping season is expected to be Friday, Nov. 23, also known as Black Friday. Predicted to come in second is Dec. 22, the last Saturday before Christmas.
New York—With Dec. 25 falling on a Tuesday this year, the final Saturday and Sunday before Christmas are expected to be among the busiest days for brick-and-mortar stores, ShopperTrak said.

Each year, the foot traffic-tracking firm releases a list of the November and December days on which it believes the most consumers will go into stores to shop. (The company does not make any predictions in regards to online shopping.)

Brian Field, senior director of the retail consulting practice at ShopperTrak, said the predictions are based on past ShopperTrak data—the company has been analyzing retail foot traffic patterns for 20 years and collects more than 40 billion footsteps every year—and what day of the week Christmas lands on in any given year.

“The shift of that one day tells us when most shoppers will be taking vacations and when they will be back at work,” he said. “This, in turn, tells you how intense the days leading into Christmas Day will be.”

It is “critical” for retailers to understand the holiday date pattern, Field said, so they have the correct staff on the floor and product in stock on the days that will be busiest. Otherwise, they risk losing sales.

As in years past, the top day for shopping—across all retail, not just jewelry—is predicted to be Friday, Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving otherwise known as Black Friday

This may not hold for jewelers, particularly independents, who, when interviewed at the start of the holiday season, typically tell National Jeweler that Black Friday is a day to buy big-screen TVs at Best Buy and waffle irons at Walmart.

Jewelry store foot traffic doesn’t pick up until later in the season, as fine jewelry is a gift consumers often put off buying until the last minute.

After Black Friday, ShopperTrak said the busiest days for in-store traffic will be as follows.

2. Saturday, Dec. 22, “Super Saturday”
3. Saturday, Dec. 15
4. Sunday, Dec. 23, the last Sunday before Christmas Day
5. Saturday, Nov. 24, the Saturday after Thanksgiving
6. Saturday, Dec. 8
7. Friday, Dec. 21, the Friday before Christmas
8. Wednesday, Dec. 26
9. Saturday, Dec. 1
10. Saturday, Dec. 29

The fact that Christmas is on a Tuesday this year makes the Saturday and Sunday before the holiday more important, which is why those days rank on the list at Nos. 2 and 4, respectively. The final Friday (Dec. 21, No. 7 on the list) before Christmas is expected to be less busy.

Field explains: “Last year, when Christmas Eve was on Sunday and Christmas Day fell on a Monday, it put more significance on the Friday before, while this year, since they’re on Monday and Tuesday, it will add more shopper traffic to Saturday and Sunday.”  

He also noted the decline in in-store foot traffic was less steep last year than in previous years, and ShopperTrak also saw a 3 percent increase in sale per shopper, which, “proved that shoppers are still flocking to brick-and-mortar and making purchases when they get there, reinforcing that the retail apocalypse is nothing more than a myth.”

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