Planning To Shop Thanksgiving Weekend? 137 Million Other Consumers Will Join You

Black Friday is still shaping up as the busiest day of the post-Thanksgiving period, says the NRF.

The number of people shopping on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Small Business Saturday/Sunday is expected to rise by 58.7 percent to 137.4 million, according to a survey by National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

By comparison, in 2015, roughly 135.8 million people kicked off the holiday shopping season during that same weekend period.

The NRF survey found that 21 percent of weekend shoppers plan to make a purchase on Thanksgiving Day — roughly in line with last year’s 22 percent.

While Foursquare analytics have cast some doubt on the singular importance of Black Friday for retailers, the NRF says it will remain the busiest day of the holiday weekend with 74 percent planning to shop that day — again, that’s the same percentage as in 2015.

About 47 percent are expected to shop on Saturday after Thanksgiving. Among those Saturday shoppers, 24 percent say they will be doing so specifically to support Small Business Saturday, up from 22 percent last year. On Sunday, 24 percent expect to shop.

“Black Friday remains one of the busiest shopping days of the year, with Americans planning to take advantage of aggressive in-store and digital promotions over the entire holiday weekend,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said, in a statement. “Retailers know consumers are spreading out their holiday budgets to shop throughout the season. While there’s no doubt of the incredible promotions offered during the weekend, the holiday shopping season is long and consumers will look for and expect great deals down to the very last minute.”

Millennials Holiday Tradition

While younger consumers are thought to represent the shift towards e-commerce, the NRF’s survey suggests that Millennials will be the ones driving both digital and brick-and-mortar business.

For retailers like Target, which has been ramping up its omnichannel strategy in time for the holiday shopping season by expanding in-store purchase pickup, balancing its e-commerce and traditional presence could make a difference this year.

The NRF’s study found that 77 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds — along with 76 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds — plan to shop next weekend. As with shoppers overall, Black Friday is the day most Millennial weekend shoppers plan to shop – 86 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 78 percent of 25 to 34-year-olds.

Still, brick-and-mortar businesses could face some issues: While not included in the 137.4 million total for the Thanksgiving weekend, 36 percent of consumers say they plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, up from the 34 percent in 2015, the NRF said.

“Millennials continue to drive the trend of hitting the stores – both on their feet and online – as soon as the turkey is finished,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “Whether they’re hoping to find gifts for themselves or for the folks on their lists, they will do their research to find the best deals of the weekend and have allotted a large part of their holiday budget for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday spending.”

“For many millennials, every Thanksgiving weekend they can remember has involved hopping online to find the best deals,” Goodfellow said. “For this group, it’s more than just a weekend of good deals, it’s a holiday tradition.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.