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Super Star Wars Saturday is Part of the Biggest Shopping Weekend of the 2015 Season

This past weekend's release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in more than 4,000 movie theaters jump-started the season's biggest shopping weekend, which includes Super Saturday on 12/19/15 — the year's most popular shopping day according to data from the Foursquare foot traffic panel.

Written by Jeff Glueck on Dec 23, 2015 - Read time: 4 min - Read Later

The Force Awakens Draws Millennial Males Who Love Beer

It's no surprise that traffic to movie theaters spiked in unparalleled ways this past weekend. (Walt Disney is reporting box office sales of $247.7 million.) Foursquare foot traffic data supports the record-breaking box office statistics, especially the strong performance on Thursday and Friday release days. Star Wars' Thursday release saw a 363% lift in visits to movie theaters over the prior Thursday; and the excitement carried into Friday as well, with a 229% lift over a normal Friday (4.6x and 3.3x respectively).

These spikes are especially noticeable because the past few weeks have been comparatively slow for movie theater visits. Jurassic World's mega opening on June 12, 2015, for instance, showed a much smaller lift of +58% on its Friday opening.

Reports have widely documented that Star Wars fans skew male and older than the typical movie goer. A close look at the adult audience makeup over the weekend using Foursquare insights reveals demographic shifts and unexpected affinities.

chart of male vs female movie goers

The Thursday release was 62% male, versus a more balanced 56% male on Saturday (and 55% on Sunday). Younger adult viewers saw the movie sooner, too. A Millennial audience jumped at the chance to see the movie first: an 18–34 year-old segment made up 44% of the adult crowd on Thursday, but just a third (34%) of the crowd on Saturday. The over 55 crowd started small on Thursday (just 14% of the audience); they grew to 21% by the end of the weekend. The 35–44 group was steady all weekend long, hovering at 25% throughout.

age breakdown chart of Star Wars' opening weekend

Some of the more interesting trends look at the habits and preferences of the opening weekend audience overall. The 58% male crowd over-indexed for just about every type of beer taste (from craft beer to IPA, draft, and breweries) as well as bourbon, pulled pork, and — not surprisingly — video games. They under-indexed for cocktails, white wine, spas, and romantic restaurants.

Super Saturday Still the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

Now let's take a look at overall shopping this weekend. Last Saturday, which is the last Saturday before Christmas, is known as “Super Saturday," and is usually a huge day for retailers. Just like last year, Super Saturday bested Black Friday, this time with about 3% more foot traffic to stores. Compared to last year, however, shop visits for the day were down about 1%, similar to how we saw that store visits dropped 2% on Black Friday compared to last year.

Shopping visits for the season overall, however, are up about 5%. This is because, as we have been consistently seeing over the past few years, shopping is spreading out through the season. Whereas Black Friday and Super Saturday are slightly down, weekends in between are slightly up. Visits may also be slightly down since Super Saturday is almost a full week before Christmas, which falls on a Friday this year. This left shoppers with slightly less urgency to buy gifts in stores when there are still more online and offline shopping days ahead.

We also reviewed the top retail categories for the day to see if anything has changed from previous years. Again, we saw that Toys & Games Stores, Sporting Goods Stores, and Department Stores all had typically high lifts over the average Saturday (with average lift of 18–24% more shoppers). These categories always perform well on Super Saturday as people buy last minute gifts.

Standing out a bit more than usual were certain speciality shops like Chocolate Shops and Jewelry Stores which had lifts of 35–45% over a normal Saturday. We speculate that this might again be because there is still more time to shop before Christmas — folks are able to spend time visiting smaller shops, whereas they tend to go to the bigger catchall stores (departments stores, big box stores, etc.) last-minute to tick off a few remaining gifts at once.

Next year, we'll expect to see a different pattern since 2016 is a leap year and Christmas will fall on a Sunday, re-setting Super Saturday to just the day before Christmas — most likely leading to some frenetic last minute shopping. You'll hear about it here. Until then, happy holidays.


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Super Star Wars Saturday is Part of the Biggest Shopping Weekend of the 2015 Season

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