Grapevine Draws a Crowd as U.S. Sets Black Friday Record

Grapevine Draws a Crowd as U.S. Sets Black Friday Record Main Photo

11 Dec 2023

Blog, News

In the lead-up to retail's biggest weekend, many brand representatives expected to see smaller crowds than in years past. Inflation continues to impact household budgets nationwide, and many shoppers reported plans to buy fewer gifts this holiday season. Overall budgets stood pat in most surveys, with consumers planning to shop deals more aggressively in 2023 and make up for higher prices by focusing on the quality of their gifts rather than the quantity. With the steady rise of e-commerce, one might have expected a retraction of in-person shopping on Black Friday this year.

But Americans set a new record instead.

According to reports from CoStar, one of the world's top real estate information and market research firms, over 200 million shoppers made their way to brick-and-mortar retail destinations immediately after Thanksgiving; a 2% jump over the record set last year. Foot traffic estimates from show a 200-300% boost in visitation from daily averages to Black Friday for retail segments including department stores, sporting goods suppliers, and beauty product vendors.

To see how Grapevine stacks up against the national trend, Economic Development staff pulled our own Placer reports from major retail hubs around town. Here's what we learned:

Grapevine Mills Remains a Market Leader

Black Friday continues to be the busiest single day of the year at Grapevine Mills, with Placer estimating 106k visits to the center on November 24, 2023. That tally beats the next busiest date by an estimated 19k visits and will likely hold the top spot even as shoppers descend on the Christmas Capital of Texas for the final month of the year. The day after Thanksgiving has claimed the top spot on a crowded list of busy days at the mall every year in the data range available. In fact, this year's sizeable crowd was only the third-largest in the last five years, behind Black Friday in 2022 (113k visits) and 2019 (110k visits).

It's tempting to overstate those performances: 2019 was the last major sales holiday before the coronavirus pandemic and 2022 brought a surge of “revenge spending” that saw consumers racing to experience all the things they had been asked to cut back on during the crisis. Some forecasts projected that e-commerce would slowly overtake the in-person experience, as well, resulting in smaller crowds every year. But brick-and-mortar retail has recovered around the nation, with the International Council of Shopping Centers reporting a strong link between digital and real-world avenues. Put simply, new stores boost online sales for many brands. Store closures, paradoxically, lead to faltering online transactions.

None of the above suggests, however, that the small retraction in shoppers at Grapevine Mills this year is reflective of a weak performance. Ranked alongside Placer's database of nationwide shopping centers, Grapevine Mills counts itself among the Top 100 busiest venues in the U.S. this November*, and the 4th-busiest center in the state of Texas - its highest ranking in the last five years. Given record-setting crowds around the country and the center's improvement in comparative foot traffic, it's more likely that shoppers are getting more strategic than pulling back. 

The remainder of this report will take a closer look at some of those strategic patterns, but it's especially interesting to note the relationship between the mall and Grapevine's other beloved retail hub: Main Street. Crowds there tend to surge just as visits to Grapevine Mills dwindle, suggesting that Grapevine shoppers seek out familiar restaurants and holiday ambiance at the end of their excursions. 

Overnight campouts and early morning doorbusters may be losing their appeal as the worlds of e-commerce and on-site retail collide, standardizing prices and discounts, but consumers are still hunting for experiences alongside deals. According to Placer, one out of every hundred mall shoppers came directly from the Gaylord Texan Resort. A similar proportion also made sure to include Bass Pro Shops - located across the street from the Mills - on their itinerary. 

Main Street Vendors Have Their Day(s), Too

In contrast to Grapevine Mills, the Historic District recorded new highwater marks for both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday this year. Historically, both post-Thanksgiving events have been strong drivers on Main Street, but 2023 reversed a three-year trend that had seen stronger turnout on the first Friday of the shopping season than on the date set aside for small business support. Placer estimates a total of 59.7k visits to the Historic District on November 24 & November 25 combined; fifteen thousand more than the next-best post-Thanksgiving weekend in our five-year analysis (2021).

Thanks to community-wide activations unique to Main Street, those record-breaking crowds still aren't the biggest to descend on the Historic District in 2023. So far, Small Business Saturday ranks as the fifth-busiest day for vendors on Main Street, behind dates that align with two Merry and Bright Drone Shows (Dec 2 and Dec 9), Grapefest, Main Street Fest, and the Carol of Lights. With one more drone show scheduled but not yet included in this year's data, the vaunted retail holiday likely won't rank as one of the five best-performing dates this year.

There's no shame in falling behind some of the region's most potent visitor draws, of course. The post-Thanksgiving weekend will still be one of the ten busiest periods Main Street sees all year. Visitors flock to the Historic District in search of photo ops and experiences, with more than half of them (52.9%) arriving after 5:00 pm on the dates analyzed here, just in time to take photos with over a million lights strewn around the area. Some travel quite a way in search of adventure, too: roughly one in twenty visited either the Gaylord Texan Resort or Hotel Vin, the boutique hotel attached to Main Street's commuter rail station.

A Big Day for Big Box Stores

The traditional Black Friday experience is alive and well in Grapevine, too. Towne Center, a near-Main Street development anchored by Target and similar “big box” brands, also recorded its busiest day of the year thus far on November 24. Here, shoppers seem to have been more efficiency-oriented with retailers like Bass Pro, TJ Maxx, Kohl's, and Old Navy dominating the list of prior and post destinations.

By far the largest source of overlap within the City was the nearby Walmart, which shared almost one out of every ten visitors to Towne Center. 4.1% went to Walmart first, with another 4.6% making the trip immediately after leaving Towne Center. Grapevine's Academy Sports & Outdoors also shared a potent overlap with Bass Pro Shops and Towne Center, recording its busiest day of the year as it welcomed an estimated 4k Black Friday shoppers.

All told, the Target-anchored development ranked in the top 10% of all shopping centers within 15 a mile radius for the month of November*. And it wasn't the only Grapevine business to rake in accolades: the City's Bass Pro Shops were the second-most visited store in the brand portfolio during that span. That location's performance has been remarkably consistent over the last five years, generating 10-13k visits every Black Friday but one; an 8,300-shopper day in the middle of the pandemic on November 27, 2020.

Whether you're looking to do more business face-to-face, generate increased foot traffic for your retail and entertainment concepts, or simply find a launchpad for your up-and-coming company, Grapevine is the perfect market! You can drop us a line to set up a meeting or explore available properties in the City today. Want to know more about The Christmas Capital of Texas? Subscribe to our Newsletter or find the ‘Growing Grapevine’ podcast on your favorite streaming platform.

*Placer does not allow single-day comparisons when determining nationwide rankings, so these data points are always based on monthly totals.