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Santa’s Not The Only One Watching You

Black Friday Shoppers
Tom Pennington, Getty Images

You have it all planned out: you’re going to wake up ridiculously early Friday morning to score some excellent shopping deals so you can get a lot of holiday shopping done. Sounds like any other Black Friday, right? For two shopping malls in America, that shopping trip is one giant research laboratory.

At two malls on Black Friday (one in Southern California and another in Richmond, VA — none around here — yet), your cell phone — the thing that goes wherever you go — will be used to track every move every shopper makes. What stores someone goes to, in what order, how much time they spend in each store, where they eat, just to scratch the surface. Why? Stores want to better understand their shoppers. For example, does someone who shops at Macy’s grab a burger or do they prefer healthier food? How long does someone spend wandering around a furniture store? Are there dead spots in a mall where fewer people are seeing advertisements?

All of this is being done completely anonymously and if you don’t want to be tracked, people are told to simply turn off their cell phone (easier said than done). However, in the not so distant future, this mall-wide technology could be used on a store-wide basis — what aisles you go up and down, what catches your eye, how much time you spend looking at displays, and more.

Remember, Santa is watching… and so is everyone else.

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