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Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites

Lila Margalit
January 2, 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites

Streets adorned in holiday lights, bustling Christmas stores and pop-ups, and local festivals all make the holiday season a truly magical time of year. So with Christmas in the rearview mirror, we dug into the data to explore some of the most beloved holiday spots throughout the country. Who visits Christmas stores? How do holiday events affect foot traffic to local hangouts? And what impact do annual parades have on major retail corridors like Chicago’s Mag Mile?

We dove into the data to find out.  

Bronner’s: Year-Round Yuletide 

Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland in Frankenmuth, MI is the biggest Christmas store in the country – nay, the world. Spanning some 27 acres, the store carries everything from personalized holiday ornaments to Christmas trees. And the venue, which is open 361 days a year, has emerged as a true destination, where visitors can enjoy a taste of the holiday spirit and load up on all their Christmas essentials.

People visit Bronner’s all year round – but foot traffic to the store really picks up during the holiday season: Between November 1st and December 21st, 2023, the holiday wonderland drew a stunning 438.0% more daily visits, on average, than it did between January and October of this year.

Drilling down deeper into the data shows that much of this visit bump is driven by locals, who flock to Bronner’s during the Christmas season. Throughout the year, Bronner’s draws tourists from all over the country – and in the summer, most visits to the shop are by shoppers living more than 100 miles away. Individuals living within 100 miles of Bronner’s tend to visit closer to Christmas, when the time comes to stock up on supplies for the holiday. And as the holiday approaches, the share of true locals in Bronner’s visitor base – i.e. those living less than 50 miles away from the store – increases significantly. 

Mozart’s Light Show

As the Yuletide season kicks into gear, special holiday-themed pop-ups and happenings also spring up throughout the country, with bars, malls, and restaurants all hosting special events filled with holiday cheer. 

One venue that goes all out for the holidays is Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, the lakeside Austin, TX coffee shop that’s been a local landmark since 1993. With free wifi, expansive seating, and bottomless coffee, Mozart’s is the perfect place for remote employees to get some work done. And with hundreds of artists performing at the venue each year and a weekly open mic night, it’s also a great place to go out in the evenings. In the run-up to Christmas, Mozart’s hosts its famed annual holiday lights show, replete with a Bavarian Marketplace, a silent disco, and this year, an actual piece of Taylor Swift’s dance floor. 

During the light show, Mozart’s is positively teeming with customers: Since the start of the event this year (November 9th), the coffee shop drew 104.3% more daily visitors, on average, than it did between January 7th (the end of last year’s show) and November 8th, 2023. And unsurprisingly, foot traffic data shows that most of this visit bump is driven by evening customers: During most of the year, the majority of visits to Mozart’s take place before 6:00 PM, with 24.4% concentrated in the morning hours. But when the festival kicks off, this pattern reverses – with 66.7% of visits taking place between 6:00 PM and midnight.

The Magnificent Mile’s Million Lights

Local parades and festivals are another mainstay of the holiday season. From New York’s iconic Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to the Hollywood Christmas Parade in Los Angeles, cities across America draw massive crowds to streets decked out with holiday cheer.

One of the nation’s most timeless Christmas celebrations is Chicago’s Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival – an all-day bonanza that features a slew of booths and activities, a televised parade, and an impressive fireworks display. The festival, which famously illuminates the city with a million lights, is one of the Mag Mile’s prime events of the year. And comparing November 18th, 2023 foot traffic to the popular Chicago retail corridor – the day of the big event – to a September 1st 2023 baseline, shows that the festivities generated a tremendous 179.5% visit spike.

And a look at the demographic characteristics of visitors to the Mag Mile during the Lights Festival reveals that the celebration draws a more economically diverse crowd, as well as a larger share of families with children. Throughout most of this year, the median household income (HHI) of the Magnificent Mile’s captured market was relatively high – $85.4K. At the same time, the share of parental households in the retail corridor’s captured market increased from 21.0% to 23.4%, highlighting the event’s special appeal for families.

Key Takeaways

Everybody needs some seasonal cheer – and the sheer variety of holiday-themed events and festivals means there’s something for everybody. How will Christmas stores fare as the retail environment continues to evolve? And how will shifting urban landscapes impact local events, parades, and festivals in the years to come? 

Follow’s data-driven retail and civic analyses to find out. 

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