More data on holiday shopping, with a mobile twist

You’re going to hear a lot in the next few weeks about consumer spending during the holiday season and who were the big winners and losers. But here’s a new variety of statistics from Placed Analytics that you’re probably going to hear a lot more about as retailers get smarter about they use location data from mobile phones.

Placed uses an app called Panels to track offline location data from mobile phones on behalf of its retailer customers. Because of a massive location database and some finely tuned algorithms, it’s able to determine with high accuracy where a phone is at any given time.

Here’s what Placed found, based on 720 million data points collected between Nov. 22 and Dec. 26:

  • Walmart(s wmt) dominated big-box retailers with 65.4 percent of traffic.
  • Among department stores, Kohl’s(s kss) received 32.3 percent of in-store traffic, followed closely by Sears with 26.7 percent.
  • AT&T (s t) and Verizon (s vz) traded the top spots in mobile carrier store visits, while last place T-Mobile had a last-minute surge to nearly catch Sprint (s s).


  • Stores generally located inside malls (e.g., American Eagle Outfitters, Express and Gap) received the highest relative gains in store visits on Super Saturday (the last Saturday before Christmas), while (presumably) boyfriends doing last-minute shopping gave Victoria’s Secret the biggest relative traffic increase on Christmas Eve.
  • The day after Christmas, people appeared to be out spending their gift cards and Christmas cash at stores such as Sephora, Michael’s, Ulta and the Apple (s aapl) store.


I’m not sure what exactly this data tells us, but it’s interesting enough. Married with retailers’ online and offline sales data, Placed’s data on who had the most foot traffic could help tell a more thorough story about real-world shopping habits. The more consumers that are willing to trade their valuable data — such as shopping habits, recent purchases and offline location data — for cash or charitable contributions, the clearer the picture retailers get about what, exactly, their shoppers are up to and how to keep them coming back.