NRF: Record 166.3 Million Shoppers Expected During Thanksgiving Weekend — 33% Eyeing Packaged-Media Gifts

An estimated 166.3 million people are planning to shop from Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) through Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) this year, according to the annual survey released Nov. 17 by the National Retail Federation.

The tally is almost 8 million more people than last year and is the highest estimate since NRF began tracking Thanksgiving Day weekend 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,” said Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, in a statement.

The top five gift categories consumers plan to give are clothing (55%), followed by gift cards at 45%, toys at 37%, packaged media at 33% and food/candy at 31%.

According to the survey of 7,719 adult consumers conducted Nov. 1-8, more than two-thirds (69%) of holiday consumers plan to shop during the Thanksgiving weekend. The top reasons cited include deals too good to pass up (59%), because of tradition (27%) or because it is something to do (22%) over the holiday.

Black Friday (Nov. 25) 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.

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Online search (43%) remains the most popular source of gift inspiration, followed by friends and family (35%) and within a retail store (31%).

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.

NRF forecast earlier this month 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.

“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,” Shay said in a statement.