Analyst: Omicron fears dampen ‘Super Saturday’ traffic


LOS ALTOS, Calif. — Location and foot traffic analyzer reported that traffic for “Super Saturday,” the Saturday prior to Christmas, was softer than expected.

Officials placed a lot of the blame on the emerging Omicron variant, which is making its way through the U.S., as well as consumers doing a lot of their holiday shopping earlier in the season, thanks to the ongoing pandemic and supply chain issues.

“In recent weeks, the latest COVID variant has been increasingly making its presence felt on the wider retail landscape. Yet, the biggest effect may have come on Super Saturday,” noted Ethan Chernofsky,’s vice president of marketing. “Earlier in the season, there was a concerted effort by retailers to incentivize consumers to begin their holiday shopping earlier this year, and that clearly had a role to play in lower visits.

“However, not only were visits down for many retailers on Super Saturday, but the gaps were actually bigger than those seen on Black Friday, indicating that rising COVID cases had a significant effect,” he continued. “For example, while Target visits were down 3.1% on Black Friday compared with the same day in 2019, that gap increased to 6.5% on Super Saturday. Walmart went from seeing visits up 2.8% on Black Friday to seeing visits down 11.5% on Super Saturday.”

Using Target as an example, Chernofsky noted that the Minneapolis-based big-box retailer saw visits up 3.8% overall in November as well as an increase in visits over the first 17 days of December compared with 2019.

“Many leading department store brands, off-price retailers, and even beauty retailers all saw either smaller gains or increased traffic declines on Super Saturday when compared to Black Friday differences. This shift speaks to the unique impact that COVID cases can have on major shopping days, limiting visit surges that had become traditional elements of past shopping seasons,” he wrote. “Essentially, the wider spread of retail visits looks to be playing a significant role in of setting declines driven by a reduction in productivity on major shopping days.”

Among big box retailers, Walmart’s Super Saturday traffic was up 6.2% compared with 2020, but down 11.5% vs. 2019. Target saw an increase of 5.1% this year vs. 2020, but a 6.5% decline compared with 2019.

Department stores were among some of the strongest performers for the shopping day, as Nordstrom (32.6%), Neiman Marcus (28.4%) and Macy’s (20.5%) all posted traffic gains in excess of 20% against 2020. However, numbers compared with 2019 were down, with Macy’s (18%) and Nordstrom (18.6%) showing the least decline.

Looking at off-price retailers, Nordstrom Rack (26.5%), Ross (13.4%), Marshalls (10.4%) and TJ Maxx (9.3%) all posted notable traffic gains vs. 2020. Interestingly, HomeGoods (0.6% vs 2020, 1.3% vs 2019) was the only retailer in this category to post traffic gains in both years.


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