All posts by Jill Studholme

Writing about people counting since 2002

It’s not just Retailers who Count People

It’s not just retailers who benefit from counting how many people come through their doors. Many other businesses are now monitoring footfall, such as sporting venues, bus operators, garden centres, banks, student unions, museums and libraries.

Bars, Pubs and Clubs

Increasingly bars, pubs and clubs are monitoring how many people are in their premises at any one time. A sophisticated people counting system tells managers not just how many people are currently in the building, but how many are in each room. Police often strictly enforce occupancy limits as a means to control crowding which might lead to fights. Building occupancy fire codes help ensure that people can exit a building safely during an emergency. Using an automatic people counting system provides proof of occupancy at all times.

Counting people in bars
Counting people in bars

Sporting Venues

Thousands of people flood into sporting venues in a very short time, which for some people-counting systems can be challenging. Using a network of cameras though, people counts can be reported in near real-time.

When choosing a people counting system for sporting venues, make sure you choose one that can cope not only with crowds but with shadows, and for evening events, low lighting.

Another benefit of a video counting system for a sporting venue is queue monitoring. The system can accurately count the number of people in a queue and determine the time people spend waiting

Student Unions

University student unions are another place where hoards of people enter every day. Accurate visitor counts prop-up staffing and funding applications. Tracking where people are going lets union managers decide where best to place shops and displays.

Bus, Train and Tram Operators

A different type of business which uses people counters are transportation operators. Video people counters can accurately count passengers getting on and off a bus, train or tram. Analysing these counts lets operators plan their timetables and routes. It also lets them justify any grants they get for running a particular service. The actual usage data is stored for individual days of the week and times of the day, for example every hour or half-hour. Once installed, operators save considerably on training and paying people to count passengers on a particular route.

The automatic video people counters are more accurate than the human counters at around 98%. The video counts can be verified simply by watching a video back and checking the counts.

A people counting system on its own provides valuable information, but when you add vehicle tracking then supervisors can see where a bus or train is as well as how many people are on it. Automated passenger counting provides reliable data at a low cost, no matter how busy the service.

Counting passengers on public transport

The VT passenger counting system implemented on buses is also an efficient management tool which allows management to compare the number of passengers who get on a bus per route against the actual number of tickets issued for the same route . Bus companies are losing thousands of pounds in lost revenue per bus and such a system allows the bus owners to manage such losses.

Museums and Galleries

Many museums are funded by governments, and receive their funding according to how many visitors they get. Video people counting gives a true number of visitors, rather than basing the footfall figure on the number of tickets allocated (for example when a bus-load of children get in under one group ticket). The real-time counts for each area also means that the museum can allocate extra security guards or other staff to that exhibit. This reduces costs: items are more often damaged or stolen in busy rooms with few personnel on duty. It also improves the visitor experience.


Monitoring queues means bank service levels run more efficiently and effectively. Data such as average queue times and the trend analyses of actual queue lengths being monitored over a period of time, allow banks to implement an efficient staff management strategy at the busiest times of the day . This gives banks a much more efficient service level for customers and lowers queue times.

Counting bank customers
Counting bank customers

Garden Centres

For Garden Centre the Video Turnstile system can be extended from just monitoring footfall to a tracking and hot spot mapping system. This allows the owners of the Garden Centres to monitor and track the flow of people as they pass through into different sections of the centre. The heat flow mapping facility lets Garden Centres see the busiest areas. It can help monitor whether any marketing or advertising techniques implemented were successful.

Footfall in garden centre
Counting visitors to garden centres and plant nurseries

Outdoor Town Centres

Counting footfall on the high street allows the town centre managers to charge rent accordingly to clients who may wish to open new businesses within the town centre, and Business-people looking to open a new shop or restaurant could be given accurate figures for footfall past their proposed location to help them assess the potential for their new venture. “Smart” towns and cities identify opportunities to improve city “walkability” and transport. They measure the impacts of events and specific marketing campaigns on pedestrian activity.

Counting people outdoors
Counting people outdoors


More and more libraries are reaping rewards from visitor counters. They are using them to save money, improve services and, increasingly, to justify their existence.

Almost any organisation dealing with large numbers of people crossing their thresholds can benefit from an automatic people counting system.

Call us on +44 (0)161 839 6437 and see if counting people would help your business, or email

Learn how to reduce queues and increase sales

The average person now spends one year, two weeks and a day of their lives stuck in shop queues. That’s according to a report by Box Technologies and Intel, which highlights the importance of technology in reducing queues. The research also found

  • Seven people in a queue is the tipping point – any longer and most shoppers won’t bother joining it
  • After 9 minutes, shoppers are likely to give up queuing and leave empty handed (other research says as little 6 minutes)
  • 86% of consumers will avoid a store if they they think that the queue is too long
  • The average shopping trip includes 20 minutes queuing time.
  • 70% are less likely to return to a store if they experience long waiting times on just one occasion
70% of people won't return to a store if they are stuck in a long queue there just once
70% of people won’t return to a shop if have been are stuck in a long queue there just once

Previous research by Lu, Musalem, Olivares and Schilkrut has also found that

  • Moderate increases in the number of customers in a queue can generate a sales reduction equivalent to a 5% price increase.

No wonder retailers and other businesses try to minimise queues. With today’s technology reducing queues becomes much simpler. A CCTV queue management system lets businesses test measures to reduce queues, and assess their impact and profitability.

A video queue management system shows

  • The number of active service points (ticket booths or retail checkouts for instance)
  • The number of people currently in a queue.
  • The average queue length
  • The average queuing time over the last half hour (for example)
  • For how long the last person to be served waited
  • How often there were more than seven people in the queue
  • How many people abandoned the queue
  • How many people jumped the queue
  • Daily figures, for example, 95% of people queued for less than 5 minutes.

Integrating the queue management system with the point-of-sale system gives hard evidence about how queue length affects sales.

To learn more about measuring and managing queues, e-mail, call us on +44 (0)161 839 6437 or fill in the form.


Further Reading on Managing Queues

Read more about measuring queues.

How long does it take to lose a customer? Report by Box Technologies and Intel

Measuring the Effect of Queues on Customer Purchases. Yina Lu, Andrés Musalem, Marcelo Olivares, and Ariel Schilkrut Management Science 201359:8 , 1743-1763

Tech evolution reducing queuing patience, Essential Retail

Retail traffic counting improves staffing and sales

Using retail traffic counting, stores can more efficiently schedule staff and increase sales.

When shoppers aren’t sure what to buy, and don’t get helpful advice from retail staff, 90% of them leave empty-handed, according to a consumer survey by TimeTrade.

It gets worse. If the 90 percent of shoppers had received the help from shop assistants, 86 percent of them would have purchased even more than planned.

The survey found that when consumers aren’t sure of what to buy, and actually get the help they need:

  • 93% are more likely to buy
  • 90% would shop at the same store the next time
  • 84% leave more satisfied
  • 86% buy more than they expected

“Every retailer can do the math,” said Gary Ambrosino, president of TimeTrade. “We’re talking about billions of dollars in lost sales – all because retailers don’t have the right sales associates connecting with the right customers at the right time.”

But retailers have limited resources to devote to staffing. To ensure they optimise the number of shop assistants available, managers need to know when are their peak shopping times and busiest footfall. A video retail traffic counter shows hourly, half-hourly or even 5-minute break-down of the number of people entering the store. The counts can be integrated with a workforce management system, making it easy to create better forecasts and staffing schedules.

Identifying key selling periods lets retailers allocate more staff at busy periods, and choose to have their best shop assistants on the floor at these times.

Video retail traffic counters can also send footfall figures to point-of-sale (POS) databases in near real-time. Using this data sales conversion figures are produced every hour or even every 15 minutes. Retailers now have concrete data as to whether their staff scheduling met their sales potential. And take steps to improve when the system highlights inefficiencies.

Graph of hourly sales conversion

To find out more about retail traffic counting, and allocating staff to maximise profits, contact or fill in our contact form.

93% more likely to buy with optimal staff levels

Thousands of shoppers walk into stores looking for guidance on what to buy, but nearly 90 percent leave empty handed when they can’t find the help they need, according to a consumer survey by TimeTrade.

Even worse, if these shoppers had received the help they needed then 86 percent of them would have bought more than they planned.

The survey found that when consumers aren’t sure of what to buy, and actually get the help they need:

  • 93% are more likely to buy
  • 86% buy more than they expected
  • 84% leave more satisfied
  • And nearly 90% would shop at the same store the next time

Retailers have a tremendous opportunity to convert the 90 percent of shoppers walking out the door empty handed today, into customers who would never shop anywhere else,” said Gary Ambrosino, president of TimeTrade “The key: giving customers the personal attention they need, when they need it most.

But retailers have limited resources to devote to staffing. To ensure they optimise the number of shop assistants available, managers need to know when are their busiest footfall. With store traffic counters they can see hourly, half-hourly or even a 5-minute break-down of the number of shoppers.

Identifying key selling periods lets managers allocate more staff at busy periods, and choose to have their best shop assistants on the floor at these times.

Counts from video store traffic counters can be integrated with point-of-sale (POS) data and sales conversion figures calculated throughout the day. This means that retailers have hard data as to whether increasing the amount of staff present increased sales efficiency. And if not, investigate why not.

Knowledgeable sales associates are more powerful – and vital to retailers’ success – than ever before.

To find out more about counting shoppers using CCTV cameras, and allocating staff efficiently to maximise profits, contact

Traffic Up; Conversion Down?

How do retailers measure the affects of advertising promotions? One obvious metric is sales. Has the store sold more stuff during the promotion? But more sales are only an indirect measurement of advertising success. What if more people entered the store because of the advertising, but less of them bought anything – is that a success or a failure? And what are the reasons for the decrease in sales conversion?

It may be, of course, that the advertising campaign attracted browsers but not prospective customers. It’s more likely though that sales conversion was down because of other factors: staffing levels, running out of stock, long queues… Managers can make educated guesses but only by measuring footfall can retailers accurately assess marketing success. Without the footfall figures, no-one knows whether an increase in sales is an indication of a job well done or of opportunities lost.

A video counting system doesn’t just accurately monitor footfall and report real-time sales conversion figures, it also gives information on the length of time people stand waiting in a queue, how many left that queue and how long they spend overall in the shop. A whole raft of retail analytics to help stores realise their potential.

For more information contact Retail Sensing.

Measuring footfall increases jewellery sales

Saturday was always the best day of the week for Avanti Jewellers. Sales were greater then than during the rest of the week. But after installing a footfall monitoring system, manager Amanda realised that the shop was actually underperforming at the weekend.

The footfall figures told her that more people left the jewellers without buying anything on a Saturday than during the rest of the week. In fact, the sales conversion – the number of people buying compared to the number crossing the threshold – for Saturday was the worst of the week.

Amanda identified the root of the problem as the sales staff. Although she had extra staff on Saturdays, they tended to be much less experienced. As an experiment she asked her most experienced assistants to work on Saturdays. She found her conversion rates went up. The conversion of visitors to customers was now similar to other days. This greatly improved the sales figures.

Measuring footfall showed what was possible, and shook the complacency brought on by the sales figures alone.