NASHVILLE: Retailers who can capture Black Friday shoppers early stand to generate one third more sales than their competitors, a new study has claimed.

As part of a study of the Thanksgiving Evening/Black Friday shopping experience of 1,000 shoppers last year, "door-buster" promotions from two different retailers were analysed.

The research, by the Boston-based market researcher Purchased, found that the first store to capture shopper traffic was able to generate an average of $121 in sales, 31.5% more than the second choice of store, which checked in with only $92.

Purchased founder Walter Carl told delegates at the recent The Market Research Event conference that the figures were based on real-time mobile data validated by GPS technology and received at an item-level detail.

This, said Carl, gave them the confidence that they were measuring a representative view of a company's customer base and also its competitor's customers. "And we do this over time – longitudinally – so we can capture a holistic view of the shopper," he added.

In addition to tracking an hourly "share of wallet", the study identified several different shopper types, including the "switcher".

While Black Friday shoppers tended to do their homework – scouting sales and planning in advance – their actual shopping patterns often failed to reflect this. "Almost 60 percent of the shoppers who planned to shop at Store A first ended up shopping at Store B or just another store," noted Carl.

According to Purchased, 32% of the switchers said they changed their minds simply because shopping at one store was more convenient. Even though Store A might have been their first choice, Store B was just around the corner. A like number (31%) stepped away from their original plan because "they were influenced by a shopping partner to change their plans".

Overall, Purchased created eight shopper segments from its 2012 Black Friday survey. The most frugal was the Friday Afternoon Shopper, a more deliberate customer who wanted to take advantage of the prices but didn't want to deal with the crowds.

In contrast, the biggest spender was the Black Friday Focus. This was someone who went out to at least two different stores on Thanksgiving night and came back out again on Friday morning. "They spend more than three times as much as Friday Afternoon people," said Carl.

Data sourced from Warc