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Your holiday shopping habits reveal more than you think

How Millennials, Boomers, early and late shoppers compare

Written by Sarah Spagnolo on Nov 23, 2016 - Read time: 5 min - Read Later

The holiday season is notorious for bringing out two distinct types of shoppers: the Black Friday deal-seeker and the last-minute procrastinator.

This holiday season, allow us to introduce you to the shopper you're likely to find at your local mall or big box store at the start of the holiday season and at the last minute.

Black Friday shoppers are also crazy for Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Black Friday deal seeker stats

Imagine that Black Friday shopping crowd, converging on a big-box or department store the day after Thanksgiving. We've all seen them lined up, camped out and clamoring for deals.

According to our data, that crowd is typically 56% women, with nearly half of shoppers age 34 and below. Millennials are often described as procrastinators, but our data shows that they're quite organized and proactive when there are deals to be had. Black Friday shoppers love easy-on-the-wallet retailers Payless ShoeSource, Men's Wearhouse, American Eagle Outfitters, Old Navy and Victoria's Secret.

But they'll splurge on experiences — another habit commonly associated with Millennials that pops in our data too. This group loves to travel; they spend on trips and show a willingness to go long distances. This group is more likely than the average Foursquare City Guide or Swarm user to go to Avis and National Car Rental depots, United Airlines and Delta terminals, and Greyhound bus and Metrolink stations.

We have already reported that Millennials love Universal theme parks, and both Orlando and Hollywood parks appear highly ranked for these 20s- and early 30s Black Friday shoppers.

Hiking, biking — shopping? Shoot. Totally forgot!

last-minute shopper more likely to shop at stats

The last-minute shoppers? That group that's jammed into malls and stores on December 23rd, which, for the past two years, has been the most popular shopping day of 2015. They have their own singular habits.

When it comes to holiday shopping, most procrastinators are older than the Black Friday bunch — 50% are 45 and above. Again, they're evenly split between male and female and they're an errand-running group; clearly busy people, anchoring households.

This group over-indexes at gas stations, grocery stores, and ATMs. They love the outdoors, shopping at Bass Pro Shop and REI.

Yet while the group loves biking and hanging out at ‘rustic' places,' they definitely enjoy the finer things in life: they shop at Williams-Sonoma, Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue. They dine at Ruth's Chris steakhouses and Benihana and likely bring the kids out for meals at family-friendly Buca di Beppo, Olive Garden and T.G.I. Friday's. They'll spend more on movies, over indexing with visits to luxury movie theaters including ArcLight Cinemas and Alamo Drafthouse.

But in the end, they're all Shoppers with a capital S

It takes a certain dedication to shop on the busiest days of the year, just as it does to shop some of America's largest malls and stores. Our data proves that both groups are true shoppers: throughout the year, both groups are more than 2x as likely than our average user to visit Toys R Us, Best Buy, and Nike.

The Takeaway for Shoppers:

Stay tuned: next week we'll be releasing data on the best days and times to visit certain categories of shops, so you can avoid the Black Friday and pre-Christmas crowds. (Early tip: Friday should be your go-to day for hitting big-box stores, toy stores, and grocery shops).

The Takeaway for Retailers:

This analysis allows retailers to understand who will be shopping on November 25th as well as who hits the stores closer to the holiday. But more importantly, it gives smart marketers the tools to be one of this season's big winners. The rise of online shopping is material, but 90% of commerce still happens in-store, with major purchases occurring in the next few weeks. It's not too late to make decisions that will change your Q4 business for the better.

For example:

Black Friday shoppers are your typical Millennial, likely with disposable income and no children at home. And on Black Friday, this group also drives a surge of visits to coffee shops, fast-food joints, casual dining restaurants and liquor stores. Strategic advertisers know to target this Millennial audience before Black Friday and throughout the holiday shopping season, ensuring that their stores and restaurants see measurable lift instead of losing out to competitors.

To drive additional revenue later in the season, advertising that targets people within close proximity of a store (or targets those who visit a competitor, or even all mall-goers) will drive visits when it counts. Don't miss out on a valuable opportunity to drive busy parents, which we can identify from their shopping and commuting patterns, as well as Gen X and Baby Boomer gift-givers while they're waiting in line at a local coffee shop next door to Toys R Us, or at the Trader Joe's near a shopping center.

Some ideas for how Foursquare's Location Intelligence can help:

For brands looking to increase holiday shoppers' basket size or drive more customers during the holiday season, Foursquare can help.

Our solutions allow you to:

  • Analyze foot traffic patterns to better understand your customer with Place Insights by Foursquare.
  • Identify the types of consumers who frequently shop a brand or a competitive brand, and retarget them using Pinpoint by Foursquare.
  • Measure digital marketing initiatives throughout the holiday season, adjusting creative and other strategies in real time with Attribution by Foursquare.

If you're interested in more information on any of Foursquare's enterprise or advertising products, visit or email


Foursquare analyzes foot traffic trails from more than 50 million monthly global users of its Foursquare city guide and Swarm check in apps and websites, which people use to explore the world and check in. We always look at our data in the aggregate and anonymously, and we ensure that our analyses are statistically valid, as we normalize against the U.S. Census. (For this study, we analyzed a statistically representative portion of U.S. users.) We're often right on the money, as we've proven with past predictions.

In this analysis, we looked at two separate groups: the people who shopped on Black Friday and those who shopped on December 23rd, the busiest pre-Christmas shopping day of 2015. We did not include shoppers that hit the stores on both dates. We identified the brands and chains where these groups over-index, with a particular focus on the chains that are popular with one group but don't register at all with the other. Chain visits needed to surpass a statistically valid visit threshold to be included.


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