Crack-of-Dawn Black Friday Lines Are Already a Thing of the Past, Data Shows

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How is the increasing appeal of e-commerce and other digital options such as BOPIS—buy online, pick up in-store—affecting retail’s biggest day of the year?

One consequence, data from Reveal Mobile indicates, is the end of the notoriously colossal lines that used to mark the beginning of Black Friday. 

The company’s foot traffic report suggests that the busiest times of the day for retailers on Black Friday this year were actually 11am to 3pm, with the hours that were once thought to mark the peak of the day’s sales—say, 6am to 8am—showing the lowest foot traffic rates of the entire day.

“We weren’t surprised to see the rush hour of Black Friday foot traffic occur from 11am-3pm this year, as we saw similar results from last year,” said Reveal Mobile CEO Brian Handly.

“As online and mobile shopping continue to grow, and major retailers continue to shift opening hours with plenty of variance throughout Thursday and Friday, the approach of arriving to your favorite retailer at 5am for the best deals is quickly becoming old-school.”

The retailer that captured the largest share of this year’s foot traffic? Walmart by a long shot, securing 3.4% of retail visits, almost doubling its nearest competitor, Target, which snagged 1.8%. 

That result suggests that Walmart’s aggressive investment in cutting-edge retail tech is paying off big time. Walmart will continue to be a retail player to watch as industry insiders and analysts consider the most effective online-to-offline innovation.

Joe Zappa is Street Fight’s managing editor.

Joe Zappa is the Managing Editor of Street Fight. He has spearheaded the newsroom's editorial operations since 2018. Joe is an ad/martech veteran who has covered the space since 2015. You can contact him at [email protected]