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Nov 27, 2019 9:42:00 AM

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Shopping Patterns in 2018

Posted by Isolde Decker-Lucke

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Black Friday is known as the busiest shopping day of the year in the United States. At Skyhook, we work with fascinating location data every day - so as we prepare for our own holiday shopping, we took a look at the historical data from Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday in 2018. We plan to follow this up with an analysis and comparison to Black Friday 2019 - so stay tuned!

In this analysis of Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2018, we look at

  • Highest trafficked malls across the U.S.
  • Analysis of specific malls
  • States with the largest levels of device traffic
  • Hourly traffic breakdown throughout malls overall 

How We Put Together the Analysis

TIDE (Tiled Device Estimates) provides de-identified counts of location requests and unique devices within an approximately 100x100 meter (hectare) tile for every hour of a week. The data is categorized by source type (IoT, App-based, etc) and localized into every timezone. Every day Skyhook’s Precision Location solution processes billions of location requests for hundreds of millions of devices globally.
We looked at our TIDE data and filtered to specifically look at large traditional malls and outlets. This left us with more than 1,500 malls to analyze. Skyhook bases TIDE counts on the subset of total devices that are detectable through our network. While this rarely represents a full count of all mobile devices, it provides an accurate and valid approximation of foot traffic with extremely high temporal and positional accuracy.  

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Mall Analysis 2018 

We analyzed each state and the number of devices detected at malls within that state’s borders. Each ‘device’ refers to a mobile device. 


All malls were sampled for both Black Friday and the proceeding Thanksgiving Day. Opening times for malls vary widely, and by including Thanksgiving Day we covered malls that open at midnight on Black Friday as well as those that offer a late Thanksgiving Day start, usually around 6:00 PM.  The numbers listed below for devices refer to devices detected across both days. The ‘busiest hour’ listed below in all cases occurs on Black Friday. 

The Busiest Malls on Black Friday 2018:

These malls were detected as having the highest traffic based on our device detection during November 22 - 23, 2018, with an overall average busiest hour of 2:00 PM:
Christiana Mall 
Easton Town Center
Mall of America 
Mall of Georgia Crossing
Potomac Mills
Sawgrass Mills 
SouthPark Mall 
Twelve Oaks Mall 
Tysons Corner Center
West Town Mall
Willowbrook Mall
Woodfield Mall 

Deeper Analysis:

Among the busiest malls in the United States are Tyson’s Corner Center and the Mall of America. We performed a closer analysis of activity within these two malls to show sample mall behavior patterns over the two days. 

Analysis of Tyson’s Corner Center:

Tyson’s Corner Center in Virginia saw high foot traffic levels during both Thanksgiving and Black Friday in 2018. The heat map to the left shows the foot traffic throughout the mall on Thursday and Friday, with concentration of devices in the middle of the mall, and a concentration seen in Macy’s.
In the graph below, we look at the number of devices Skyhook detected within Tyson’s Corner Center, starting at 12:00 AM on Thanksgiving Day, and then through Black Friday. The mall sees significant activity on both Thanksgiving and on Black Friday. We saw a surge of foot traffic starting when the mall opened at 6:00 PM on Thanksgiving, and then a drop between 3:00 AM - 8:00 AM, when there was a second round of visitors, with traffic steadily building until 2:00 PM.

Tysons-Corner-Center-2018-TimelineDevices Detected at Tyson's Corner Center on November 22-23, 2018


Thanksgiving Black Friday
Hours Open 6:00 PM - 12:00 AM 12:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Highest Number of Devices Detected 10:00 PM 2:00 PM


Analysis of Mall of America:          

 Live Map of the Mall of America on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2018

The heat map above shows the foot traffic throughout the Mall of America on Thursday and Friday. The Mall of America is closed on Thanksgiving Day, but remains open from 5:00 AM - 10:00 PM on Black Friday, but unlike Tyson’s Corner Center, there isn’t a massive increase of devices detected when the store opens. Instead, we saw a gradual increase of visitors throughout the day, with a climax at 2:00 PM, followed by a steady decline. Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 6.05.24 PM

Devices Detected at the Mall of America on November 22-23, 2018 

  Black Friday
Hours Open 5:00 AM - 10:00 PM 
Highest Number of Devices Detected 2:00 PM


Top 10 States with the Highest Amount of Devices Seen at Malls on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 

The size of the state and access to malls may have a direct correlation to this number and rating, with Texas and California unsurprisingly at the top of the list. This list is based on the number of devices Skyhook detected and provides a valid examination on general device traffic: 
  1. Texas
  2. California 
  3. Florida 
  4. New York 
  5. Georgia 
  6. Ohio
  7. Illinois 
  8. Pennsylvania
  9. North Carolina
  10. Virginia 

Hourly Analysis of Mall Foot Traffic on Black Friday and Thanksgiving 2018

Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 6.13.39 PM

Devices Detected at all Malls in the United States of America on November 22-23, 2018 

To provide an overarching view of hourly shopping patterns across the U.S., we combined data from all of the malls in our data set, and saw an interesting pattern. In general, our data showed a rise in visitors on Thanksgiving around 8:00 PM, followed by the lowest visitor numbers around 3:00-4:00 AM and then a steady increase upwards until early to mid-afternoon. The busiest shopping time was between 1:00-3:00 PM, with a decline after that time period. 
Take into consideration open times vary by mall, and different stores will have sales and incentives throughout both days that can influence shopper behavior. Overall, each mall is different, but these findings are meant to provide general insights and guidelines into Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. 

Busiest Malls in America on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2018 by State

The list below highlights by state the overall devices observed at traditional malls and outlet malls, the specific malls with the highest number of devices observed, and the time period with the most amount of devices detected at malls. The busiest time for every state is on Black Friday. We did not include Alaska due to low traffic numbers. 

TIDE Footfall Estimate Explanation: 

Footfall estimates are derived by factoring TIDE device counts within mall geofences against published or independently certified attendance counts for locations where these are available.     
Approximately 32 million people were observed in total. 
  • Devices Observed: 31,265 / TIDE Footfall Estimate:  545,300
  • Busiest Malls: Riverchase Galleria, Bridge Street Town Center, The Outlet Shops of Grand River
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 37,155 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 675,500
  • Busiest Malls: Scottsdale Fashion Square, Chandler Fashion Center, Arizona Mills
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 16,433 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 293,400
  • Busiest Malls: Pinnacle Hills Promenade, McCain Mall, Outlets of Little Rock
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 208,776 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 3,939,200
  • Busiest Malls: Ontario Mills, Citadel Outlets, Del Amo Fashion Center
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 29,861 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 542,900
  • Busiest Malls: Park Meadows Mall, Southlands Shopping Mall, Outlets at Castle Rock
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 16,762 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 310,400
  • Busiest Malls: Connecticut Post Mall, Westfarms, Danbury Fair
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM 
  • Devices Observed: 6,272 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 114,000
  • Busiest Malls: Christiana Mall, Deptford Mall, White Marsh Mall
  • Busiest Time: 3:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 137,747 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 2,374,900
  • Busiest Malls: Sawgrass Mills, St. Johns Town Center, Dadeland Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 66,589 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,024,400
  • Busiest Malls: Mall of Georgia Crossing, Lenox Square, Perimeter Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 7,586 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 137,900
  • Busiest Malls: Ala Moana Center, Pearlridge Center, Waikele Premium Outlets
  • Busiest Time: 11:00 AM 
  • Devices Observed: 7,103 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 114,600
  • Busiest Malls: Boise Towne Square, Grand Teton Mall, The Village a Meridian
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 64,844 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,063,000
  • Busiest Malls: Woodfield Mall, The Shops at North Bridge, Oakbrook Center
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 35,710 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 605,300
  • Busiest Malls: Greenwood Park Mall, Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 14,303 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 234,500
  • Busiest Malls: Jordan Creek Town Center, Coral Ridge Mall, NorthPark Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM 
  • Devices Observed: 15,903 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 260,700
  • Busiest Malls: Oak Park Mall, Legends Outlets Kansas City, Oak Park Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 22,162 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 363,300
  • Busiest Malls: Fayette Mall, Hamburg Pavilion, Greenwood Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 28,919 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 525,800
  • Busiest Malls: Mall of Louisiana, River Chase Shopping Mall, Pecanland Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 3,769 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 61,800
  • Busiest Malls: The Maine Mall, Freeport Village, Bangor Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Slowest Time: 9:00 PM
    • Note: Maine had a high spike to almost peak visitor numbers at 1:00 AM, a crash at 4:00 AM, and then a climb of visitors from then on until the busiest time between noon and 2:00 PM. Interestingly, The Maine Mall was closed on Thanksgiving and open from 6:00 AM - 9:00 PM.

Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 6.44.01 PM

Devices Detected at Malls in the State of Maine on November 22-23, 2019

  • Devices Observed: 44,285 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 750,600
  • Busiest Malls: Arundel Mills, The Mall at Prince George, Westfield Montgomery
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 29,428 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 545,000
  • Busiest Malls: Burlington Mall, Natick Mall, Wrentham Village Premium Outlets
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 45,404 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 890,300
  • Busiest Malls: Twelve Oaks Mall, Great Lakes Crossing Outlets, RiverTown Crossings
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 31,678 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 646,500
  • Busiest Malls: Mall of America, Crossroads Center Mall, Rosedale Center
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 12,781 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 209,500
  • Busiest Malls: The Mall at Barnes Crossing, Turtle Creek Mall, Gulfport Premium Outlets
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 34,414 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 674,800
  • Busiest Malls: Battlefield Mall, South County Center, Chesterfield Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 2,745 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 48,200
  • Busiest Malls: Rimrock Mall, Southgate Mall
  • Busiest Time: 11:00 AM
  • Devices Observed: 12,486 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 204,500
  • Busiest Malls: SouthPointe Pavilions Shopping Mall, Nebraska Crossing Outlet Mall
  • Busiest Time: 3:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 12,719 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 195,700
  • Busiest Malls: The Outlets at Legends, Meadows Mall, Galleria Mall
  • Busiest Time: 12:00 PM - 3:00 PM
    • Note: Nevada saw a spike in visitors at 7:00 PM on Thanksgiving, a sharp drop between 10:00 PM and 3:00 AM, a steady increase from 3:00 AM until 3:00 -4:00PM, followed by a moderate decline after 4:00 PM.

Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 6.50.45 PM

Devices Detected at Malls in the State of Nevada on November 22-23, 2018

New Hampshire 
  • Devices Observed: 8,209 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 114,000
  • Busiest Malls: The Mall at Rockingham Park, The Mall of New Hampshire, Pheasant Lane Mall
  • Busiest Time: 12:00 PM
New Jersey 
  • Devices Observed: 49,214 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,004,400
  • Busiest Malls: The Mills at Jersey Gardens, Cherry Hill Mall, Bridgewater Commons
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
New Mexico 
  • Devices Observed: 5,724 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 88,100
  • Busiest Malls: Coronado Center, South Plains Mall, Cielo Vista Mall
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM
New York 
  • Devices Observed: 91,989 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,586,000
  • Busiest Malls: Roosevelt Field Mall, Palisades Center,  Woodbury Common Premium Outlets
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
North Carolina 
  • Devices Observed: 62,729 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,140,500
  • Busiest Malls: Concord Mills, Crabtree Valley Mall, North Hills Mall, Cross Pointe Center
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
North Dakota 
  • Devices Observed: 5,448 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 89,300
  • Busiest Malls: Kirkwood Mall, West Acres Shopping Center, Dakota Square Mall
  • Busiest Time: 12:00 PM 
  • Devices Observed: 66,539 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,127,800
  • Busiest Malls: Easton Town Center, Polaris Fashion Place, Franklin Park Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 21,459 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 315,600
  • Busiest Malls: OKC Outlet, Penn Square Mall, Woodland Hills Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 14,631 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 239,900
  • Busiest Malls: Clackamas Town Center, Washington Square Mall, Willamette Town Center
  • Busiest Time: 3:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 64,279 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,127,700
  • Busiest Malls: King of Prussia Mall, Lehigh Valley Mall, Park City Center
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
 Rhode Island 
  • Devices Observed: 3,438 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 55,500
  • Busiest Malls: Providence Place, Warwick Mall
  • Busiest Time: 4:00 PM
South Carolina 
  • Devices Observed: 26,829 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 439,800
  • Busiest Malls: Haywood Mall, Coastal Grand Mall, Tanger Outlets Myrtle
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM 
South Dakota 
  • Devices Observed: 4,625 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 85,600
  • Busiest Malls: The Empire Mall, Western Mall, Rushmore Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 38,366 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 661,500
  • Busiest Malls: West Town Mall, CoolSprings Galleria, Opry Mills
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 243,555 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 4,093,400
  • Busiest Malls: The Galleria Houston, Village on the Parkway, Baybrook Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 15,727 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 257,800
  • Busiest Malls: Layton Hills Mall, Fashion Place, Newgate Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 994 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 14,600
  • Busiest Malls: Diamond Run Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 60,884 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 1,087,200
  • Busiest Malls: Tyson’s Corner Center, Potomac Mills, Fashion Center Pentagon City
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 31,574 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 544,400
  • Busiest Malls: Alderwood Mall, The Outlet Collection Seattle, Westfield Southcenter
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM 
West Virginia 
  • Devices Observed: 9,031 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 148,000
  • Busiest Malls: Huntington Mall, Grand Central Mall, Meadowbrook Mall
  • Busiest Time: 2:00 PM
  • Devices Observed: 20,135 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 330,100
  • Busiest Malls: Fox River Mall, Mayfair, Brookfield Square
  • Busiest Time: 1:00 PM 
  • Devices Observed: 1,393 / TIDE Footfall Estimate: 22,500
  • Busiest Malls: Eastridge Mall, Frontier Mall
  • Busiest Time: 12:00 PM 


In Conclusion

Black Friday is the most popular day for shopping in the United States due to large discounts and deals that come once a year, but our data has shown that shoppers are also visiting malls on Thanksgiving evening too. In 2018, Skyhook detected approximately 1,750,000 devices in malls during Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Location intelligence can be incredibly informative for retail owners looking to better understand shopping patterns at their location, at those of their competitors, and in comparison to malls across the globe. As you plan your Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping, or prepare your retail location for the busy season, consider the value the can be generated from these types of location-based insights. 
Skyhook helps retailers assess opportunity in a new market and gain a competitive advantage by leveraging accurate location analytics combined with consumer behavioral data. Skyhook will publish a report on Thanksgiving and Black Friday 2019 along with a comparison of the data. Stay tuned!