An estimated 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday this year, according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. This figure is almost 8 million more people than last year and is the highest estimate since NRF began tracking this data in 2017.
“While there is much speculation about inflation’s impact on consumer behavior, our data tells us that this Thanksgiving holiday weekend will see robust store traffic with a record number of shoppers taking advantage of value pricing,” says NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “We are optimistic that retail sales will remain strong in the weeks ahead, and retailers are ready to meet consumers however they want to shop with great products at prices they want to pay.”
According to the survey, more than two-thirds (69%) of holiday shoppers plan to shop during Thanksgiving weekend this year. The top reasons consumers plan to shop are because the deals are too good to pass up (59%), because of tradition (27%) or because it is something to do (22%) over the holiday.
Black Friday continues to be the most popular day to shop, with 69% (114.9 million) planning to shop then, followed by 38% (63.9 million) on Cyber Monday. Among the 114.9 million Black Friday shoppers, 67% say they expect to head to stores, up from 64% in 2021.
Similar to 2020 and 2021, this year, 60% of holiday shoppers had started browsing and buying for the season as of early November. This consumer trend of earlier shopping was accelerated by the pandemic. In 2019, 56% of holiday shoppers had started their shopping around this time.
“While consumers continue to save the bulk of their holiday shopping for later in November and December, some of that spending has shifted into October,” says Prosper executive vice president of strategy Phil Rist. “This year, 18% of holiday shoppers have completed at least half of their holiday shopping. While this is on par with last year, it is up from only 11% a decade ago.”
Online search (43%) remains the most popular source of gift inspiration, followed by friends and family (35%) and within a retail store (31%).
The top five gift categories consumers plan to give are:
- Clothing (55%);
- Gift cards (45%);
- Toys (37%);
- Books/music/movies/video games (33%); and
- Food/candy (31%).
Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $28.6 billion, compared with $28.1 billion in 2021. Similar to last year, holiday shoppers plan to purchase between three to four gift cards and spend an average of $51.47 per card ($165.87 per person). Consumers are most likely to purchase a gift card for a restaurant (27%), department store (26%) or bank-issued gift card (25%). Another 10% plan to purchase a food-delivery service gift card such as DoorDash or Uber Eats.
Toy retailers take note: When it comes to toys, the top choices for boys this year include 1) Lego, 2) Hot Wheels, 3) cars and trucks, 4) PlayStation, 5) video games, 6) Pokémon, 7) Nerf, 8) electric/remote control cars, 9) dinosaurs and 10) Xbox. For girls, the top toys are 1) Barbie, 2) doll, 3) L.O.L. dolls, 4) Lego, 5) makeup, 6) Squishmallows, 7) American Girl and apparel (tied), 8) Disney-related items, 9) baby doll and 10) cell phone and Magic Mixies (tied).
The survey of 7,719 adult consumers was conducted November 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.
Earlier this month, NRF forecast that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 6% and 8% over 2021 to between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion. Last year’s holiday sales grew 13.5% over 2020 and totaled $889.3 billion, shattering previous records. Holiday retail sales have averaged an increase of 4.9% over the past 10 years, with pandemic spending in recent years accounting for considerable gains.