Retail Customer Shifts Explain Why You Hate Holiday Mall Shopping

November 19, 2013 Ben Myers

crowded shopping

Why are the malls packed just before Christmas? Where do all these people come from? That’s the question at the core of a recently released report from in-store marketing platform Nomi called ‘Lessons Learned In Loyalty & Marketing – How Holidays Impact Offline Consumer Shopping Behavior’.

Comparing loyal (repeat and frequent) customers to new customers in physical retail locations, the report describes how your favourite store will be overrun with new shoppers come December – then back to normal in January.

New customers come and go

nomi_logoAccording to the report, new customers may represent close to 90% of holiday foot traffic during the shopping season, but less than 10% of them will return to shop at the same store in the following 45 days.

Loyal customers also prefer to avoid holiday crowds, opting out of their favourite stores to avoid the crowd. The percent of overall visitors who were loyal customers decreased during both Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends.

Following holiday shopping, dormant customers (who have been to the store before do not visit frequently) return to the store with a conversion rate similar to loyal customers. This might mean that shopping for others can re-start a customer’s affection for a brand or store.

Loyal customers soon return

Looking at recent American holidays for insight, Nomi says that loyal shoppers aim to avoid the crowds by picking their store-visiting hours very carefully. During Labor Day in the United States, the concentration of loyal customers as a percentage of overall shoppers peaked between 10 – 11 a.m., and 7 – 8 p.m.

Retailers would be wise not to ignore their loyal customers, even as their store is flooded with new purchases, as 50% of loyal customers return to the store within nine days of the holiday.

Malls are just the worst

Nomi’s research also confirms what you may have already guessed: Malls are the worst during the holidays. Comparing malls to urban locations, the report demonstrates that customer traffic in mall locations explodes, while urban locations merely experiences a mild bump; mall traffic increases 231.5% while urban locations increase to only 111.2% of their average.

Other findings are recommendations from the report include:

  • Loyal customers loathe long lines caused by holiday crowds so offer pre-holiday teaser promotions to this segment. Loyal customers as a percentage of overall shoppers decreased by 12.0% and 20.5%, during Columbus and Labor Day, respectively.

  • Holidays re-energize dormant customers who return at rates similar to that of loyal customers after shopping during a holiday. Marketers would be wise to launch targeted campaigns to extend the lifecycle of these high value customers.

  • POS data only tells part of the story. To accurately calculate the ROI of holiday campaigns, retailers need to leverage an omnichannel measurement solution like Nomi to measure how offline and online campaigns lift loyalty and retention rates offline.

See the full 5 Rules For Retailers Preparing For Black Friday blog post.

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