Black Friday foot traffic doesn't peak when you think it does

Doorbuster deals actually bring out the fewest people all day, according to Google.


The day that practically every retail worker loathes with a passion is almost upon us: Black Friday. To get an idea of just how much of a nightmare shopping is on the day after Thanksgiving, Google turned to foot traffic data based on aggregated, anonymized mobile location history info gathered last year. Perhaps most surprising is that stores apparently aren't at their busiest during doorbuster deals in the wee hours, but between 2PM and 4PM -- the early-bird deals are actually when store traffic is at its lowest across the board. What's more, only certain types of stores see their traffic at their highest on that first shopping day of the holiday season: consumer electronics and cellphone stores. Malls, department stores and "superstores/discount stores" (likely places akin to Costco and Sam's Club)? They're typically busiest the last Saturday before Christmas.

Now, given the sourcing for the data, there's a chance it's too small to be a representative sample of the population. Not everyone uses their cellphones when shopping, and not everyone goes out for retail therapy on the day after Thanksgiving, either. Another caveat is the amount of folks who have location history on their (probably) Android phones turned on. If you're going out into the maelstrom this Friday maybe you can circle back and let us know how accurate Google's data is in the comments.

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