How to increase customer footfall with outdoor advertising

Increase retail 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.

This article explains the various aspects of shop exterior which can also be used to increase customer footfall in retail, particularly outdoor signs. We'll also answer 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 in retail with outdoor signage and store exterior

Among the most effective examples of outdoor advertising are 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 the likelihood of them 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 local businesses are set back from the high street or hard to find, you must think carefully about how to use outdoor advertising to alert people to your presence. Consider carefully what message you want your signage and outdoor retail displays to convey to new customers, and what might attract them.

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 for consistency in your outdoor marketing.

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

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

4. Social and seasonal factors affect what existing customers might feel a need for at any given moment. If it is a rainy weekend and you sell umbrellas, it's the perfect time to advertise them 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. You 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

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. These include 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 [1]. 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. Their research found that sales were positively increased in brick and mortar stores that utilised window displays.

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.

Outdoor advertising products

Kira Swales

Kira Swales

Kira Swales is a copywriter for UK POS. Kira has eight years' experience in e-commerce and copywriting and a background in retail. She enjoys researching topics in depth in order to provide readers with the latest information on point of sale merchandising. Read more of her comprehensive guides in our Knowledge Hub.


1. 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.