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How to increase customer footfall with outdoor advertising

Increase footfall with outdoor advertising

What is customer footfall and outdoor advertising?

Footfall simply refers to the amount of people setting foot in a shop or venue over a given period of time. Increasing customer footfall is a primary goal for retailers, and outdoor advertising is one of the best ways to draw in new visitors.

Our previous articles on how window advertising works and how to design window displays have demonstrated that window dressings are one of the very best ways to encourage approach behaviour from the store exterior. Unlike in-store visual merchandising, window merchandising is interpreted by customers more like advertisements, meaning they will use the storefront to both infer information and be motivated to explore the shop inside.

This article explains the various other aspects of shop exterior which can also be used to increase customer footfall in retail, particularly, outdoor signs, as well as answering some additional important questions such as what to display on outdoor signs and how to measure the success of your outdoor advertising efforts.

How to increase footfall with outdoor signage and store exterior

Examples of outdoor advertising include A boards, heavy duty pavement signs, flags and banners, cafe barriers and poster cases. Pavement signs in particular can interrupt the path of the pedestrian and increase their likelihood of looking at your window displays. Bespoke printed event flags are perfect for being spotted by passing motorists at the roadside or in forecourts. If your business is set back from the high street or hard to find in some way, you must think carefully about where outdoor advertising could be placed in order to alert people to your presence. Consider carefully what message you want your signage and outdoor retail displays to convey in order to attract new customers.

4 ideas of what to display on outdoor advertising to increase footfall:

  1. Use your outdoor signs to reinforce any promotions or sales you have been advertising on social media. Make your advertising comprehensive, with similar messages online, in-store and outdoors. Liquid chalk pens can be used on both chalkboards and inside windows, enabling consistency in your outdoor marketing.

  2. Make special offers, such as new promotions or discounts, particularly prominent, as these will attract bargain hunters and potentially “convince” others who may previously have been on the fence about whether to enter.

  3. Humour always works well. Jokes, rhymes and funny images will cause passersby to smile. This can result in approach behaviour and relaxed spending. Using humour also increases your odds of getting free advertising, as a funny message is more memorable and can prompt people to post photos of it online.

4. Social and seasonal factors affect what customers might feel a need for at any given moment. For example, if it is a rainy weekend and you sell a special type of umbrella, then it is the perfect weekend to advertise this on your outdoor advertising. The same can be said for warm clothes in winter and cool clothes or fans in summer. By doing this, you will connect with passing customers on a level which appeals to their basic needs and may even alert them to something they didn’t realise they needed.

Remember to choose your pavement signs carefully - if you are in an open area and are liable to extreme weather conditions, you may wish to select a heavy duty weather resistant pavement sign with a weighted base to prevent tipping.

Outdoor signage to increase customer footfall

  • Outdoor LED Illuminated Poster Frame - ideal for use in theatres

    Outdoor LED Illuminated Poster Frame

    SLF5 In stock
    From: £533.30
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    ex. VAT

  • Custom Printed Feather Flags

    Feather Flag with Custom Print

    FG2 Despatched in 5-7 working days
    From: £76.80
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  • Outdoor menu display case with LED lighting

    Outdoor Illuminated Menu Display Case

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6 ways to increase customer footfall with outdoor signs

  1. Use illuminated outdoor signs to attract attention on evenings and darker days.
  2. Use bespoke printed door and wall plaques to enhance your business image and build brand awareness.
  3. Event flags and forecourt signs are great for attracting attention for motorists and pedestrians alike.
  4. A heavy duty pavement sign is a safe choice to use in variable weather conditions.
  5. Cafe barriers are a great way to section off an outdoor area, while presenting your branding and/or special offers in a large scale.
  6. Gauge the success of your window advertising, pavement signs and outdoor promotions with various methods for measuring footfall, including the use of traffic counters, customer feedback and visual observation.

Interactive displays and digital screens: the storefronts of the future

As the body of research on effective merchandising techniques grows and the popularity of e-commerce is booming, academics and businesses alike are starting to look to the future of outdoor advertising for brick-and-mortar retail companies.

Recent research into the persuasive qualities of digital signage claims that using digital window displays correctly can result in increased impulse purchases and repeat visit intentions [1].

Looking forward, interactivity seems to be a key concern for those investigating how to increase footfall in retail, with many companies investigating the possibility for technology to help create interactive window displays and outdoor signage. Interactivity is strongly persuasive in merchandising, and digital technology is now reaching new heights of capability. One example that is gaining traction is the use of digital window displays and interactive outdoor kiosks that people can interact with from the street.

Measuring the success of your outdoor advertising products

One challenge that retailers are faced with is how to measure the success of window advertising and other outdoor promotions. There are various methods for inferring this information, including traffic counters for footfall monitoring (both manual and infra-red), and use of video cameras, eye-tracking software & consumer feedback.

Edwards and Shackley’s UK study on the impact of window displays in Boots the Chemists attempted to measure display success by both tracking sales figures and by surveying pedestrians who viewed the window display [2]. They recorded both qualitative and quantitative data by both using a market research company and conducting 250 interviews, showing that there are multiple empirical methods to assess a display’s effectiveness in retail. Incidentally, their research found that sales were positively increased in stores that utilised window displays.

Outdoor advertising products

  • Outdoor LED Illuminated Poster Frame - ideal for use in theatres

    Outdoor LED Illuminated Poster Frame

    SLF5 In stock
    From: £533.30
    (from £ per unit)

    ex. VAT

  • The Water Base Pavement Sign is our best selling model

    Water Base Pavement Sign

    WPG7 In stock
    From: £65.00
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    ex. VAT

  • Wall mounted outdoor leaflet holder and business card holder

    Outdoor Leaflet Holder Wall Mounted

    SD10 In stock
    From: £2.36
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    ex. VAT

  • Supervue Window Display Poster Holder

    Window Display Poster Holder

    SEC In stock
    From: £7.62
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Kira Swales

Kira Swales is a copywriter for UK POS. With over six years’ experience in e-commerce and copywriting, and many years in the retail sector, Kira loves to take a deep dive into topics in order to provide readers with the latest research in point of sale and merchandising. Read more of her in-depth guides on POS in our Knowledge Hub.


1. Bauer et al., ‘Research Directions for Digital Signage Systems in Retail’, Procedia Computer Science, Vol 141 (2018), pp. 503-506.

2. Edwards and Shackley, ‘Measuring the Effectiveness of Retail Window Display as an Element of the Marketing Mix’, International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 11 (1992), pp. 193-202.