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December 08, 2016

Shopping, holiday travel, and snow—just a few of the many reasons why roads in the United States tend to be busier than usual in December. For savvy brands, this influx in traffic represents a wealth of opportunities to reach customers and influence their purchasing decisions.

By digging into Waze navigation data from last year, we discovered patterns that may help brands focus their marketing efforts, connect more powerfully with their consumers, and make the most of this December's shopping extravaganza. And, if you're planning to squeeze in some last-minute holiday shopping, these insights could also help you beat the crowds..


Have Yourself a Very Merry . . . Last-Minute Trip to the Mall!
Apparently, there's something about the holiday frenzy that American consumers just can't get enough of (we also observed similar last-minute behavior among grocery shoppers in the days leading up to Thanksgiving). According to Waze shopping mall navigation data from 2015, the number of people driving to shopping malls increased steadily in the days leading up to Christmas Eve, and the busiest December day for holiday shopping was December 23rd (a Wednesday). Of course, this year, it's important to keep in mind that Christmas Eve is on a Saturday, which could influence shopping patterns.

US Navigations to Shopping Malls in 2015.


'Tis the Season to Be Shopping

Since most people work from nine to five, it makes sense that shoppers would prefer to go to the mall in the afternoon or the evening rather than during the morning. In fact, during the month of December, peak shopping hours were 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and this remained the trend on December 23rd—when 31 percent of navigations to shopping malls occurred during this three-hour window.

US Navigations to Shopping Malls in 2015.


Christmas Isn't Over 'Til It's Over
December 23, 2015 was the biggest December day for Christmas shopping, but it was December 26th that saw the highest number of navigations to shopping malls. This could be for a variety of reasons: Perhaps shoppers were taking advantage of post-Christmas sales or quickly exchanging an unwanted gift. Maybe people were actually heading to the cinema for a family outing. Or perhaps it was so busy because December 26th fell on a Saturday last year. Whatever the reason, December 26th will be a federal holiday this year. Marketers should be prepared to take advantage of the spike in consumers who are out and about and who may be looking to spend their holiday gift cards. Take for instance Gap’s campaign from this year that shows a holiday-specific offer, or Starbucks' seasonal campaign that promotes their "Holiday Spice Flat White” in their festive red cups.


  



  


The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
With so many eager consumers navigating to shopping malls during December (even after Christmas), brands have the opportunity to make this a very merry month indeed.

Through Waze data, we are able to detect shopping patterns and connect brands with consumers during their critical moments of need. Think about the impact a contextual Christmas promotion could have when displayed to consumers who are on their way to their local shopping mall. A contextual ad delivered at just the right time could help a bewildered last-minute shopper find the perfect gift or entice a would-be gift returner to pop by your store to pick up something they really want. Not only will you be adding relevant information to each consumer's journey, but you may also help them make up their mind about that all-important next purchase.
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