Happy, Happy Holidays: How We Spent Our Holidays in 2018

January 15, 2019

At Gravy Analytics, we analyze pseudonymous mobile location data to better understand where people go and what they do in the real world. Now that it’s 2019 and we’re all back at work, we wondered how US consumers spent their holidays this year. We compared foot traffic data – at stores, entertainment venues, hotels, restaurants and more – between December 18-24 and December 25-31 to find out. Here’s what we found:

Happy, Happy Holidays: How We Spent Our Holidays in 2018

We went on vacation.

Visits to hotels jumped during the last week of December, particularly in categories like Seaside, Destination and Golf Resorts. Visits to Motels were down, suggesting that folks vacationing over the holidays want to stay someplace a little more special.

What surprised us? While high-end hotel brands like the Waldorf Astoria and JW Marriott saw visits grow by 27 percent and 20 percent respectively, other luxury brands didn’t fare quite as well. By comparison, visits to the Ritz-Carlton rose just 3 percent. Also surprising: Cruise Ships, which saw 14% fewer embarkations over the holidays.

We watched movies.

Visits to Movie Theaters leapt 13 percent between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, indicating that plenty of people used their time off to catch the latest movies. Plus, with awards season just ahead, there were plenty of must-see flicks in theaters to choose from including the much-anticipated Mary Poppins Returns. Regal Cinemas saw a 20 percent increase in foot traffic during the holiday week, while AMC Theaters saw their visits increase by 9 percent.

We had fun.

Plenty of people used the holiday week to enjoy quality time with friends and family. Visits to Aquariums jumped 30 percent and Indoor Entertainment/Amusement Parks were up 7 percent. Entertainment destinations like Six Flags and Topgolf were up 20 percent and 16 percent, respectively, during the holidays.

Casino attendances also rose by 9 percent. Although Bowling dipped as a category, AMF Bowling saw their visits increase by 4 percent week over week.

We didn’t we do over the holidays? Shop.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, foot traffic was down for most leading brands between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. There were a few exceptions: foot traffic was up 14 percent at Hallmark – the perfect place to pick up a forgotten card or gift. Visits were also up slightly at luxury brands Hugo Boss and BGBC, and at shoe retailer The Athlete’s Foot, suggesting either a high volume of returns or that there are some gifts consumers just need to buy for themselves.

Visits were down in all shopping categories but one: Souvenir Shops were kept busy by holiday travelers. Visits in this category were up 8 percent week over week.

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