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Macy's outpaces others in terms of foot traffic, but holiday boost is declining year over year

2 weeks ago by Joshua Fruhlinger in Retail

Holiday shopping season is upon us, and with that comes window displays that create foot traffic and, hopefully, shoppers. For major retailers like Macy's ($NYSE:M), Saks ($TSX:HBC), and Bloomingdales, brick-and-mortar sales still make up a major part of their revenue strategies. 

But foot traffic, at least as measured by the number of selfies and status updates posted via Facebook, heavily favors Macy's. By the end of the 2018 holidays, for instance, Macy's' Were Here count totaled 3.71 million.

In a very distant second was Saks with a count of 554,000, followed by Bloomingdales with 468,000. Neiman Marcus saw 342,000 Were Here's, while Bergdorf Goodman took in 130,000. Barney's only saw a total of 78,000 by the end of December 2018.

Macys' dominance when it comes to Facebook Were Here counts is likely both a reflection of its relative popularity as well as a central location during the holidays. After all, it has sponsored the Thanksgiving Day Parade since 1924, which attracts millions of people both in-person and on television.

But as we found with Saks, the holiday foot traffic lift for department stores has been declining over the years. In Saks' case, we found that Were Here lift during the holidays decreased from a jump of 47,000 in 2016 to just 21,000 in 2018.

For the same time periods, Macy's, despite its Were Here dominance, saw its holiday lift decline from a healthy 270,128 in 2016 to just 87,320 in 2018.

The trend is concerning, especially as Macy's missed sales expectations despite beating analyst expectations, as reported by Lauren Thomas at CNBC, blaming the soft numbers on a warmer-than-expected fall and international tourists who he says are spending less than ever.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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Joshua Fruhlinger

Joshua has been writing about technology, lifestyle, and business for over 20 years. He's one of the original writers and editors for Engadget, and still writes a...

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