Iconic images of the holiday season include: lit-up Christmas trees, Santas on the corner, blockbusters at the movie theater, and hellishly crowded stores.
For diligent consumers who like to plan out their shopping schedules to not only score big discounts but to also avoid the worst crowds, take note: The slowest shopping day of the season will likely be Tuesday, Nov. 29. That’s according to RetailNext, a shopping analytics firm, which also predicts Saturday, Dec. 17 will be the busiest shopping day of the season (which is typically the Saturday before Christmas Eve).
So if you want to shop in-store with minimal elbowing and lines, aim for the week after Thanksgiving. And if you’re highly committed to this crowd-avoidance strategy and have the luxury of a flexible schedule, shop after lunch: “the absolute slowest time for shopping will be those mid-afternoon hours following lunch hour,” said Lauren Bitar of RetailNext in the company’s statement.
Bitar also noted that much of the holiday shopping this year will be pushed to the later part of the season because Hanukkah starts relatively late this year; the first night of the holiday starts on Dec. 24 (last year the first night was Dec. 6).
Lest you think trekking to a bricks-and-mortar store to buy stuff is a quaint tradition of a bygone, pre-Internet era, it’s not. Yes, shopping online is convenient and easy – and plenty of people will buy all their gifts online – but more money is spent in-store than online, for a variety of reasons. According to a 2015 PwC survey, nearly 40% of consumers make purchases in a physical store once a week, compared to 27% who do the same online. Though, of course, online is gaining rapidly.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of the busiest and slowest days in terms of shopper visits, according to RetailNext:
Top 5 least busy shopping days:
Tuesday, Nov. 29
Monday, Nov. 28 (Cyber Monday)
Wednesday, Nov. 30
Thursday, Dec. 1
Monday, Dec. 5
Top 5 busiest shopping days:
Saturday, Dec. 17
Black Friday, Nov. 25
Friday, Dec. 23
Saturday, Dec. 10
Monday, Dec. 26
Shoppertrak’s prediction for the busiest and slowest shopping days this year echoes much of RetailNext’s forecast – but both say stores will see the lightest traffic on Nov. 29. Mark your calendars.