How People Counting Impacts your Bottom Line

Learn about people counting in the retail industry, its impact on business operations, how to use retail analytics, and the impact on the industry.


Matt Klingbeil



Ninety-one percent of consumers do at least half of their shopping in physical retail stores compared to online, while two-thirds do most of their shopping in physical stores. That's according to the technology company Theatro. With all this foot traffic in retail spaces, people counting has become an increasingly important task.

People counting for retail means keeping track of the number of people who enter and exit a physical retail space.

There are various benefits of people counting that you should know about:


By knowing how many people are in their physical space, retailers can improve security. For example, store employees can prevent people from entering a store if it's too full. People counting can also help retailers adhere to any legislation or guidelines in their region or industry that deal with maximum occupancies, such as fire safety laws.

Limiting store occupancy was particularly important during the pandemic when certain jurisdictions imposed guidelines about the number of people allowed in a store at any time. Although most governments have lifted these restrictions worldwide, people counting for retail technology can be useful in other situations requiring store occupancy control, such as during the Black Friday sales.


In non-health-and-safety scenarios, the more people in a store, the better. A full store means more people are browsing products and making purchases, increasing a retailer's bottom line. With the latest people counting technology, such as an AI-powered retail camera system, store owners can learn whether they receive more foot traffic and particular times of the day or week and use these insights to increase profitability.

Staff management

By knowing busy and less-busy periods in their stores, retailers can increase or decrease labor. For example, if data from people counting technology, such as a door traffic counter for retail, reveals that Sunday afternoons are the busiest period for a retailer, they can hire more staff to meet consumer demand. These customer behavior analytics can also guide operations. 


Using customer counting in your business

There are various things to consider for people counting in retail. For example, tracking people in stores can pose questions about privacy and data security. Many retailers invest in people counting solutions that comply with data governance frameworks like GDRP. For example, purchasing customer counting cameras that only store data about customers for a limited time and don't share that information with other parties.

It's also important to think about the type of data collected in people counting activities. The best solutions let retailers gather the following information:

  • Footfall data: Footfall is the number of people who occupy a retail space at one time. By analyzing foot traffic data, store owners can find out how many people visited their store at different intervals and compare store visits with the number of sales generated during the same period. Tracking retail foot traffic can also help retailers manage staffing levels.
  • Length of time in-store data: The most advanced people counters such as an AI door counter sensor, can determine how long someone stays inside a store before exiting. That can help retailers learn how long people visit their stores, whether they engage with products, and other customer behavior analytics. If most people only spend a few minutes in a store, its owner might want to improve the store experience to keep people there longer and improve retail traffic.
  • Demographic data: AI-powered people counting technologies can uncover demographic data such as the age or sex of a store visitor. While not all technologies are 100% accurate, retailers can learn more about their customers for marketing campaigns and generate more revenue. For example, if a store attracts a younger demographic, its owner can target this audience with marketing materials.

How to use retail analytics

Retailers can use the data sets listed above and generate insights about customers and operations. For even more successful retail analytics, store owners should consider these additional data sets when carrying out people counting for retail:

  • New/returning visitors: Whether someone walking through a store is a new or returning customer. This data set is important for determining brand loyalty and whether customers are likely to return for additional purchases. If retailers receive few returning customers, they might not be providing a good enough user experience.
  • Busiest parts of stores: By placing people counting solutions in-store, retailers can learn which areas of their physical spaces are the most popular. That will tell them which products attract the most footfall. This data set also helps with occupancy management by revealing insights about where customers dwell in-store.
  • Queue management: People counting tools can determine how long someone lines in a queue at a store. This queue count data is also important for improving the user experience. If a person waits too long to pay for their goods or speak to a customer rep, they might exit that store and leave a negative review online.

Only AI-powered video-based people-counting solutions will provide all of these data sets. Sensors, beams, and other technologies don't have the capabilities to measure demographic information or distinguish between new and returning customers.

AI video camera systems connect with retail video analytics software, allowing business owners to identify patterns and trends in data sets and make smarter decisions. For example, retailers can predict when queues will be the longest based on historical data and hire additional employees to improve line management. Alternatively, they can identify when existing customers are likely to return to their store again by analyzing customer behavior. The best analytics tools provide insights about in-store activities via charts, graphs, and other visualizations, making it easier to analyze data from video systems when people counting for retail.

The impact of people counting solutions

People counting solutions are electronic devices that calculate footfall at any given moment, providing retailers with information about the people who frequent their stores. This technology includes sensors, light beams, and people-counting video surveillance cameras. People counting solutions generate insights about how many people enter or exit a door at a retail location, allowing retailers to improve security, manage footfall, and improve day-to-day operations.

Here are some of the most popular technologies for people counting in retail:

People counting sensors

A people counting sensor is a device that measures how many people walk through an entrance/exit in a retail environment. These sensors connect to a separate system that logs how many people are in a store at one time and detects their presence with thermal imagery or other technology.

People counting beams

Laser beams are a type of people counting sensor that use infrared beams to detect people frequenting a store. That helps a retailer count how many people are in their physical space at different periods. A store owner can install a people counting beam outside their space and direct it toward an entrance. The technology will count customers as they break the beam.

People counting cameras

A video camera system records and counts the number of people who enter and exit a retail location. This people counting system detects bodies as they move into view of a camera. The best cameras have AI capabilities that make it easy to identify patterns and trends in footfall, allowing retailers to learn more about day-to-day operations. AI cameras can also generate video analytics for retail stores about the type of people who frequent their spaces. For example, these cameras can predict a customer's age, sex, and other demographic information accurately. That helps retailers learn what types of people are browsing their products.

How Spot AI can help

People counting in retail is becoming more of a necessity as retailers want to generate insights about footfall, queue management, and customer behavior and demographics. While store owners need to be aware of consumer privacy and data security, the latest people counting technologies can help them calculate how many people visit their physical spaces at specific times. That can result in more insights into their retail operations.

When counting visitors in your store, retailers should think about the data they want to collect. They can then use retail analytics software to identify patterns in this data and discover more information about the people who visit their spaces.

While beams and sensors can help with people counting, retailers need an AI-powered video surveillance tool that can help track visitors and learn more about them. Spot AI is an innovative video camera system that utilizes AI for advanced people counting.

Here are some of the benefits of this product:

  • Users can access video footage from one single dashboard or assign roles to different team members. That ensures only the right people access footage, improving data governance.
  • Spot AI is a plug-and-play, meaning it's available to use straight out of the box. It also works with any IP camera, so users don't have to invest in new equipment for people counting.
  • AI-powered search capabilities make it simple to find the footage a retailer needs at any moment.
  • Users can set up alerts and instantly know when footfall exceeds a particular threshold. That can help retailers improve health and safety and prevent too many people from entering their stores at one time.

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