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November 20, 2023

NRF: More Consumers Expect To Shop Thanksgiving Weekend

The National Retail Federation estimates 182 million people are planning to shop in-store and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year.

An annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics determined that 15.7 million more people will shop on the weekend than did last year. The new estimate is the highest since NRF began tracking data for the promotional period going back to 2017.

In this year’s survey, 74% of holiday shoppers said they planned to visit physical and virtual stores during the five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend period, up from 69% in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, NRF indicated. The main reasons consumers plan to shop during the period include the deals are too good to pass up, at 61%, and because of tradition, at 28%.

Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, with 72% of consumers planning to shop, up from 69% in 2022. Cyber Monday comes in second, with 39% of those who anticipate shopping over the weekend planning to do so on the date, on par with 38% last year.

NRF has forecast holiday spending is likely to reach record levels during November and December, growing between 3% and 4% and totaling $957.3 billion to $966.6 billion. The holiday sales total in 2022 reached $929.5 billion. NRF expects holiday spending in 2023 to pace the average annual holiday growth of 3.6%, as occurred from 2010 to 2019.

Similar to the past few years, NRF noted that 59% of holiday shoppers started browsing and buying for the holidays as of early November to get a head start on their seasonal purchasing. On average, holiday shoppers completed a quarter of their planned purchases during the first few days of November.

Gifts are the purchases shoppers are most likely to have made so far, with 48% of holiday shoppers having purchased gifts so far this season. Another 18% said they’ve purchased decorations, and 17% said they’ve purchased gifts for themselves. 

The five-day Thanksgiving holiday promotional period will include some of the busiest shopping days of the year, NRF maintained, despite earlier excursions.

“Early shopping is a trend we have been tracking for several years, and this year, there is evidence the deals and promotions from October resonated with consumers,” said Phil Rist, Prosper Insights & Analytics executive vice president of strategy.  “More than 40% of shoppers say they took advantage of retailers’ October sales to shop specifically for holiday gifts, décor and other seasonal items.”

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, “The Thanksgiving holiday weekend marks some of the busiest shopping days of the year, as consumers enjoy the tradition of shopping for the perfect gifts for friends and loved ones. Retailers have been preparing for months for this occasion. They are stocked and ready to help customers find the gifts and other items they want at great prices during the entire holiday season.”

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