Thanksgiving Traffic Up, Spending Down

More than 141 million unique shoppers went shopping Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million last year.

April 6, 2018

2 Min Read

More than 141 million unique shoppers went shopping Thanksgiving weekend, up from 139 million last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Traffic on Thanksgiving Day itself grew 27 percent as nearly 45 million shoppers, or 31.8 percent of holiday shoppers, up from 35 million in 2012. Despite that, Black Friday was still the biggest day of the long weekend, with more than 92 million people (65.2 percent) shopping, up from nearly 89 million last year.

On average, shoppers spent $407.02 from Thursday through Sunday (planned), down from $423.55 last year. Total spending is estimated to reach $57.4 billion for the four-day weekend.

“Cold weather, unique promotions and unbeatable prices put millions of Americans in the mood to shop for holiday gifts this weekend,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “Retailers’ late night and early morning promotions struck just the right chord for those hoping to kick off the holiday shopping season with friends and family. With only a few weeks until the big day, retailers will continue to aggressively promote their in-store and online offerings, looking to entice today’s very budget-conscious and value-focused shopper.”

Those Thanksgiving weekend deals were especially enticing to young people with more than three-quarters (76.2 percent) of 18- to 34-year-olds who shopping or planning to shop over the holiday weekend–higher than any other age group.

One-quarter (25.4 percent) of holiday shoppers say they were at stores by 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving night and nearly four in 10 (37.3 percent) were at stores by midnight, up from 28 percent last year. Early hours weren’t for everyone though; more than one-third (35.8 percent) didn’t arrive at stores until 10 a.m. or later.

And the weekend shopping excitement wasn’t limited to stores. Consumers also spent more of their holiday budgets online. According to the survey, four in 10 (42.1 percent) shopped online over the weekend, or approximately 59 million shoppers. Of those, the average person spent $177.67, or approximately 43.7 percent of their total weekend spending, up from 40.7 percent last year.

“Online shopping over the Thanksgiving weekend continues to be more popular as retailers tout special holiday savings through their mobile apps and websites,” says Pam Goodfellow, director, Prosper Consumer Insights, which conducted the survey. “With limited budgets this year, holiday shoppers will continue to make very thoughtful decisions about when and where they shop the remainder of the season, making sure to compare prices and keep up with retailers’ advertisements for special sales.”  

Clothes, electronics, books, DVDs and video games were among the most popular items purchased over the weekend.

  • 57.5 percent bought clothing and clothing accessories

  • 37.7 percent bought electronics

  • 36.1 percent bought books, CDs, DVDs and video games

  • 34.5 percent bought toys

  • 29.6 percent bought gift cards

  • 16.9 percent purchased jewelry items

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