Malls turn to cell phone tracking to keep tabs on Black Friday shoppers

Mike Wehner, Tecca

For the crowds of bargain hunters on Black Friday, having a game plan on which stores to hit — and in what order — is a big plus. But the shoppers aren't the only ones mapping paths from store to store; a pair of malls will be using an advanced cell phone tracking system to keep an eye on customers as they hop from one retailer to the next.

The Promenade in Temecula, CA, and the Short Pump Town Center in Richmond, VA, will both be utilizing a system called FootPath to monitor customers in the facility. The technology uses a series of antennas to identify customers' cell phones by their unique IP addresses, and then keep a constant watch on where the Black Friday crowds move.

The creators of the FootPath system insist that all information is strictly anonymous, and no specific shoppers are singled out. However, privacy advocates are still wary of the technology due to the fact that most shoppers have no idea their habits are being watched. Small signs on mall entrances serve as a warning that the monitoring system is in place, but it's hard to imagine anyone paying attention to them as they fly through the doors.

The malls are using the data to help stores provide more effective advertising and marketing moves, much like online retailers track purchases and then present ads for similar products. However, if you happen to be shopping at a location using the tracking technology and don't wish to be monitored, opting out of the program is as simple as shutting off your phone.


This article originally appeared on Tecca

More from Tecca: