Multitudes Expected to Shop Day After Christmas

Up to 60% more shoppers than last year are expected to walk through retailers’ doors on Dec. 26 this year. According to ShopperTrak—a provider of retail and mall foot-traffic counting services—consumers will shop in droves the day after Christmas because it falls on a Monday for the first time in six years. Dec. 26 is expected to rank third in foot traffic for the holiday shopping season, surpassed only by Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and Super Saturday, the Saturday one week before Christmas.

"Dec. 26 is a very important shopping day, as shoppers return unwanted gift items and shop for marked-down merchandise," said Bill Martin, ShopperTrak co-founder. "If retailers depend on last year's shopper turnout and behavior as a guide for staffing and inventory plans, they will lose out on business this year. Dec. 26 is going to be a door-buster day."

Each day of the week has a different traffic signature, says ShopperTrak. Last year, Dec. 26 fell on a Sunday, a day that generally features abbreviated shopping hours, church service conflicts and even store closings tied to local "blue laws." This year, the shopping day falls on a Monday, meaning regular shopping hours are available to consumers still on vacation and eager to leave the house on the day after the holiday.

"The last time Dec. 26 fell on a Monday was 2005. We saw an increase in foot traffic that day, due entirely to its position in the week," said Gary Dispensa, ShopperTrak senior economist. "Using our historical data, unique econometric model and traffic counts from more than 25,000 locations across the country, we're confident foot traffic on Dec. 26 will greatly increase from what retailers saw last year—even with the recession."

While 2005 is a pre-recession data point, ShopperTrak accounted for economic factors and weighted the analysis comparatively. Were the United States not in a recession, retailers could have expected as much as a 67% increase in foot traffic.

National foot-traffic has been steadily falling since 2005: Time-pressed consumers conduct more pre-shopping research online, and higher gas prices have discouraged car trips.