Here’s some early data on what happened at six major retailers on Friday obtained by Skyhook Wireless. They track users’ locations using their mobile phones. Since Friday, they’ve analyzed millions of users’ signals and cross-referenced the locations with where Skyhook knows the stores are.
The chart above is what a normal Thursday and Friday looks like, by the hour, based on foot traffic in stores. The stores shown are Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s, Kohl’s and Sears.
Now here’s some preliminary information about what happened at those same stores this past Thursday, Thanksgiving Day and Friday:
There’s a lot to say about this information, and there will be more data to come. Here’s what I take away from it:
Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy were winners. Their traffic in the critical hours was a meaningful multiple of normal traffic. The data doesn’t say how many visitors were converted into purchasing customers, but there’s no reason to doubt that conversions were normal for Thanksgiving weekend. Macy’s did a lot better than normal with its traffic, but it looks like their increase doesn’t compare to Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. Sears, well, they’re Sears, and traffic is only one of their problems, so let’s just say the traffic did not materialize, and I’m sure no one’s surprised.
The surprise in the data seems to be Kohl’s. Where in the first chart they are normally at Sears’ level, their multiple of normal looks as good or better than any of the retailers on the chart. I would expect their performance when it’s finally reported to be super strong on Thanksgiving weekend. Kohl’s said it had a very strong Thanksgiving and Black Friday; now we’re seeing it in independent data. What they wind up with for the season, whether their margins hold up and what will be the ultimate level of their online traffic is too soon to tell but so far this holiday, Kohl’s looks like they are punching well above their weight and drawing customers to their stores as much as any retailer could hope for.