How to increase foot traffic in retail and boost sales this Black Friday

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

This year’s Black Friday, which falls on 26 November, is likely to be the first major test of the recovery in the Retail sector since the pandemic. Despite being a mainly American notion, it has become a firmly established event in the retail calendar in many countries around the world for some years now, both in store and online. Discounts regularly last throughout the weekend until ‘Cyber Monday’, when tech bargains typically take centre stage. One theory of how the day got its name relates to retailers returning to healthy finances and ‘the black’ after a successful sales period.

Here, we look at how you can boost your retail foot traffic and therefore sales this year, as shoppers return to stores in person for the first time since 2019, and we emerge into the post-pandemic landscape.

What does foot traffic mean in business terms?

Foot traffic or footfall, in business terms is simply a measurement of the number of people who visit a shop or similar site. Analysing it should form a key part of any retail business strategy and expansion plan, since it allows you to calculate visitor numbers, understand market trends and the percentage of visitors who leave a premises without having made a purchase. You’ll also be able to assess peak times, staffing needs and how your site is performing generally.

Most retailers have a sensor at the entrance to their shop which calculates foot traffic.

Is foot traffic still down on pre-pandemic levels?

In a nutshell, yes. Statista is reporting that foot traffic among shoppers in the United States was down by 26.5% for the last week of August compared to the same week in 2019. 

Plus in the UK, the British Retail Consortium is reporting that the total footfall in August 2021 fell by 18% compared with pre-pandemic figures, but encouragingly was an improvement over the three-month average decline of 24.6%.

The organisation’s Chief Executive Helen Dickinson commented:

“August’s footfall was a tentative step in the right direction. There were minor improvements with the return of some workers to the office and domestic tourism; however, overall footfall remained significantly down compared to the pre-pandemic peak.”

Deloitte says customer confidence in engaging with in-store shopping remains cautious. It predicts that consumers will continue to prioritise cooking from scratch, eating at home, shopping online and using digital services, with online sales expected to continue to grow.

Giving customers a well thought-out, engaging experience remains crucial to the future of the physical store.

Ten ways to increase foot traffic in retail and boost sales on Black Friday

Chances to engage shoppers may have been severely lacking over the last 18 months, but Black Friday represents a golden opportunity. Here are some ways of maximising it:

1. Make your shop front stand out

In a fiercely competitive marketplace, it has never been more important to stand out. Change displays regularly and keep them seasonal. Make sure you’re showcasing your best products, but don’t bombard passers-by with too much information. As ever, less is more.

Think about the glass in your window – varied styles and thicknesses are available so choose glazing that matches your needs perfectly.

Your display should also reflect your brand’s tone and qualities. Finally, think about what you can incorporate to make it more eye-catching, from flashing lights to moving parts and even some greenery. Make some changes and see what happens!

2. Partner with other local businesses

Clearly, retail is intensely competitive. But consider how you could join forces with other businesses and help one another. If you sell musical instruments, for example, a nearby record shop could display your marketing information; you could do the same for them.

3. Move into the street

You’re less confined to the four walls of your shop than you may have realised. Head outside and, if you can, demonstrate products or hand out samples. (Obviously, this is ideal if you sell food or drink.) Additionally, consider an attention-grabbing A-board pavement sign highlighting new stock or special offers.

Tensator’s Café Banner is cost-effective, hardwearing and easily installed, dismantled and stored. Use its flexible, customisable space to promote deals outside your shop and draw people in, while creating outside space or a queue management system with minimal disruption.

  • Boost your marketing
    Don’t forget the importance of social media and other forms of marketing. Use multiple platforms to create excitement ahead of a particular product or offer.
  • Create safe queueing systems and manage queues

    Potential customers may be discouraged by long queues, especially if they don’t seem to follow social distancing measures. We supply retractable and rope barriers, so we have something to suit you whatever the environment. While rope barriers create more of an upmarket, VIP feel, retractable ones are easy to set up and customise and configure. Equally, we have many different models to suit your needs, so you can manage your queues efficiently and safely.Tensabarrier cafe banner used for crowd control and advertising

4. In-queue merchandising

Turn previously ‘dead’ space into a valuable retail opportunity with our modular In-Queue Merchandising (IQM®). It’s highly customisable, and intended to go in front of the point of sale to maximise last-minute impulse revenue from customers while they wait, giving you an immediate return on your investment. Yet it occupies no more space than a standard queue management solution and can even be retro-installed on to existing Tensabarriers that you might have purchased for social distancing.

5. Running effective store promotions

You need to make sure that, across your premises, you’re making the most of every opportunity to display information, promotions, offers and guidance to your customers. We offer a range of modern, smart-looking sign holders and similar accessories to do just that. You can set them up quickly, and without tools. Tensator’s new and patent pending Mediablade Eco signs can you help you boost your in queue promotional messaging and are fully plastic-free and recyclable.

6. Provide clear routing for your customers

The layout of bigger stores can seem confusing. Give customers a clearly defined route to help them – and you – by encouraging an efficient flow of people. It’s also a good idea to direct customers with clarity to the queue they need to be in, using barriers. These can boost flow efficiency easily and quickly. One great solution is our sturdy yet highly portable Tensabarrier®, which you can remove once the queues subside.tensabarrier for queue management


7. Don’t forget buy online, pick up instore

Statistics show that many customers increasingly want the unified shopping experience of “bricks and clicks”. Also keep in mind that some customers, especially those who have been shielding or are otherwise vulnerable, may feel reluctant to return to physical shops. So continue to offer a buy online, pick up instore service. Create a well-signed area for customers to pick up their online purchases conveniently and quickly. Check out how our Tensator® Virtual Queue Management System (VQMS) can seamlessly and completely integrate your customers’ on and offline experiences, making them more dynamic and intuitive. This modular solution also gives your business more meaningful data.


The immediate threats may appear to have receded, but coronavirus is still very much with us. And, as mentioned, many remain wary, especially when they’re out and about. So retailers must prioritise creating Covid-safe spaces respecting social distancing and hygiene measures.

We offer a number of quality solutions for social distancing and safer queuing, such as webbing barriers (including a reflective version), separation panelling, seat straps and hand sanitiser brackets.

The pandemic has transformed the retail landscape, and numerous challenges lie ahead. Black Friday, ushering in the festive season just a few weeks before Christmas, offers the ideal opportunity to assure your customers that shopping in person can be safe and enjoyable once again. It’s also the perfect chance to maximise sales and revenue via clever promotions. Talk to us to see which of our products would best suit your needs at what we hope will be a busy time for retailers worldwide.

Download our Retail brochure to find out the many ways in which we could help your retail brand, or alternatively contact us directly.

New Call-to-action



queue management

5 Tips To Manage People Queuing Outdoors

Why is preparing for people queuing outdoors important? Managing people queuing outdoors can be a challenge for any business. Especially when there are large crowds. If visitors are queuing for an event in busy venues, or waiting in line to go on a ride at a crowded theme park, managing your queue is crucial to […]

Read more
queue management blog

Event Signage: More Than One Direction

Why is event signage important for your venue? Well, when the world is a stage, first impressions are crucial. Your welcome signage could be the first thing an attendee sees as they walk in. It should be eye-catching and relevant to deliver the maximum impact. Otherwise, your visitors may difficulty finding their intended location. Implemented […]

Read more