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Warning: Retailers Were Monitoring You this Black Friday

Mall sensors allowed retailers to track Black Friday shoppers' buying habits

We already know there are many ways to monitor a user’s buying habits if his purchases are made online. It seems like everything we type into our browsers is stored and analyzed by marketers who just so happen to know that we may be in the mood to purchase a new dishwasher. How do they know? Oh, that’s right, we just Googled “best dishwashers.”

While it’s no secret that our online activity is monitored, it may come as a surprise that our in-store Black Friday shopping may be. No, retailers aren’t stealing your credit card information. Instead, a service called FootPath Technology installed receivers in a few malls this holiday weekend that monitored the whereabouts of shoppers who had their cell phones turned on.

This data will help those mall retailers analyze how much traffic they had and which sections of the store received the most attention. This type of information could be vital to a retailer’s understanding of consumer spending patterns, interests and needs. What it can’t monitor is how creeped out many shoppers may be at the prospect that a little hidden box is tracking their every move.

Naturally, anyone uber-creeped out could have simply turned off their cell phones, making them untraceable. All data is also obtained anonymously. With this system, retailers don’t care who you are, they just want to know how their sales and merchandise are performing on a whole.

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